LEXINGTON, Va. - 12 different Keydets found the scoreboard, led by D.J. Covington's career night, to lead VMI to a 102-61 rout of the Virginia University of Lynchburg Dragons Monday night at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va.
Covington notched a career-high 26 points, his second career high effort of the year, and shot a strong 10 of 11 from the floor. That accounted for a 90.9 field goal percentage, the third-best single-game effort in VMI (4-5) history, among players with at least 10 attempts. The junior center also had 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, and was the lone player in double figure rebounding on a night that saw 12 different Keydets not only score, but play at least 10 minutes.
The other story of the night was the Keydet defense, which had a season-high 20 steals, led by four each from Gavin Stephenson and Nick Gore, and also forced a season-best 31 turnovers in the victory. VMI held a 50-24 edge in points in the paint and did not trail in the contest, the first time that had been the case since last year's Big South Championship tournament, when it occurred twice.
The game was out of reach in the early going, as after a sloppy first four-plus minutes, the Keydets used a 21-2 run to go up, 25-6, at the 10:43 mark. The run took less than six minutes, as VMI took advantage of four turnovers and shot 9 for 15 during the game-deciding push. VUL (5-9) scored the next time down the floor to cut the lead to 16, but VMI answered with a Brian Brown three-pointer and the Dragons got no closer than 18 the rest of the way.
The margin quickly ballooned to 27 after a Stan Okoye basket with 5:20 on the clock, and the lead hit 30 for the first time on a Covington basket at the 1:03 mark. VUL reduced that margin by one at halftime, 52-23.
In the first half, the Keydets had 17 points off turnovers and took advantage of nine offensive rebounds to convert 11 second chance points. Covington had 13 points and Okoye posted 12 to lead VMI in the first half, while Dmitry Zimin had seven points for VUL.
The visitors were able to stay with the Keydets more evenly in the second half, at least early on, as the margin still stood at 29 with 11:23 to play. VMI then used a 16-4 run in which five different players scored, including Phillip Anglade off a fast-break lob from Okoye, to take a game-high 41-point cushion with 6:04 remaining. The Dragons hit a pair of late three-pointers to get the gap under 40, but a late basket by Dorian Albritton and a free throw by Joe Carr accounted for the final margin, 102-61.
The 41-point margin of victory was VMI's largest since Dec. 10, 2011, a 49-point win over Milligan College. Other VMI notables included Anglade, who had a career-high nine points, and Christian Burton, who scored a career-best six markers. Brian Brown equaled his career-high with five rebounds, and freshman Dorian Albritton hit double figures for the first time with 10 points.
In the win, the Keydets shot 35 of 77 (45.5%) and 9 of 36 (25.0%) from three-point range, while VUL was held to 21 of 64 from the floor (32.8%) and 5 of 17 from distance (29.4%). VMI did improve on its recent struggles at the foul line, hitting 23 of 33 (69.7%), the first time in the past three games that the Keydets had exceeded 66% at the charity stripe.
Egor Shakhmetov led the Dragons with 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
VMI basketball will return to action Saturday, taking on Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. Game time is set for 7 p.m.