LEXINGTON, Va. - The VMI Keydets got a career-high 19 points from Keith Smith, a season-low five turnovers and weathered a second-half comeback attempt by the Longwood Lancers on the way to an 81-70 win in basketball action Saturday afternoon at Cameron Hall in Lexington.
VMI led by as many as 10 in the first half, but Longwood chipped away and closed the gap to two on three different occasions midway through the second period. The last of those times came with 10:21 remaining at 58-56, but the Keydets scored 10 of the game's next fifteen points and the Lancers got no closer than six the rest of the way.
The Keydets (4-5) finished with four in double figures, led by Smith's 19 points and six assists. Austin Vereen chipped in 14, while Tyler Creammer had 12 points and seven rebounds. The five turnovers were not only the lowest total this season for VMI, but the lowest by any Keydet team since having four on Jan. 31, 2014 against Presbyterian.
B.K. Ashe led Longwood (3-6) with 21 points.
The Keydets took the lead for good on a Jordan Ratliffe jumper with 9:33 left in the first half, and closed the period on a 7-0 run to take their first double-digit lead at 44-34 at halftime. VMI then scored 19 of their 37 points off the bench in the second half and used a 5-1 edge in second-half three-pointers to stave off the Longwood comeback attempt and preserve the victory.
For the game, the Keydets shot 25 of 58 (43.1%) and 10 of 30 (33.3%) from long range. VMI was 21 of 27 (77.8%) at the foul line. Longwood shot 23 of 51 (45.1%) overall, 6 of 15 from three-point range (40%) and 18 of 24 (75%) from the free throw line.
VMI basketball will return to action Thursday, when the Keydets take on Southern Wesleyan at Cameron Hall. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Dan Earl
"We talked before the game and emphasized that whoever got on the floor today to try to affect the game in a positive way. We had a variety of different guys come in and give us very valuable minutes, certainly score the ball, and even someone who didn't score in double figures like Greg Parham had a tremendous game."
"Only five turnovers was huge for us because that's been something that's really plagued us in past games and we could have snatched another win or two. Sixteen assists and two turnovers, I couldn't be any more proud of our guys."
"Our crowd was phenomenal today. Our young guys are still learning how to play in this environment and we want them to play with confidence."
"Tyler Creammer played great and he's starting to see things in the post as teams throw different things at him and when Keith Smith is pushing the ball and getting open shots for us it gives us another dynamic."