CONWAY, S.C. - The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers used a 12-2 run midway through the second half to break open a four-point game, and went on to defeat the VMI Keydets 72-49 in Big South basketball action Saturday afternoon at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C. With the setback, VMI's five-game winning streak comes to an end as the Keydets (9-8, 4-1 Big South) suffer their first conference loss of the season.
Coastal (8-8, 3-2 Big South) used a 15-5 run at the start of the second half and pushed a four-point halftime lead to 14, but the Keydets battled back. Back to back three-pointers by Rodney Glasgow started a 12-2 VMI run that Stan Okoye capped with a basket with 11:03 to go, pulling the Keydets back within four at 44-40. On the Chanticleers' next possession, Warren Gillis hit a three-pointer to push the lead to seven and start Coastal's own 12-2 run that broke the game open. El Hadji Ndieguene scored with 4:13 remaining to end that spurt and put Coastal up 14, and the Keydets could get no closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Glasgow and Okoye had 16 points apiece, with Okoye adding 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season, but VMI was held to 17 of 56 shooting (30.4%) from the floor, including just 8 of 31 (25.8%) from three-point range. The 49 points is a season-low, and is the lowest VMI output since an 85-41 loss to Winthrop on Jan. 23, 2008.
Anthony Raffa had a game-high 21 points to lead Coastal Carolina, and the Chanticleers took full advantage of a 40-12 edge in points in the paint.
Both teams struggled in the opening half, as Coastal shot just 11 of 31 overall (35.5%) to VMI's 9 of 28 (32.1%). The Keydets did make five threes in the opening half, and stayed in the game in part due to Coastal's failure to make free throws. The Chanticleers led by as many as six on two occasions, but were hindered by going just 4 of 11 at the charity stripe for a dismal 36.4%.
Despite that, Coastal would take the lead on a Raffa basket less than four minutes into the game. VMI chopped the deficit to one point on two occasions, the last of which came on a Brian Brown basket at the 7:56 mark. The home team responded, pushing the margin back out to six on a Raffa hoop at 4:27, but VMI scored six of the half's last 10 points and entered the locker room down by just four, 27-23.
The Keydets missed their first five field goals in the second half, allowing their opponents to start the period on a 10-2 run that made it a 37-25 contest. That push grew to 15-5 after Charles Ashford converted two free throws with 15:29 remaining, making the score 42-28 and setting the stage for the exchange of 12-2 runs that would decide the game.
After retaking a 14-point lead with 4:13 to go, Coastal scored 16 of the game's final 23 points, aided in large part by free throws, to account for the final margin.
VMI finished the setback with 15 turnovers, just 10 shy of the amount the team had posted in its previous three games combined, and wrapped up the contest just 7 of 14 (50.0%) at the foul line. That marked the Keydets' lowest foul shooting percentage since Nov. 11 against Army (46.7%), and the squad's second-lowest mark of the season. Okoye's 12 rebounds did move him past Reggie Williams '08 into fourth on VMI's all-time list, and also vaulted him into seventh on the Big South's all-time rankings in that category.
VMI basketball will return to action Wednesday, as the Keydets travel to High Point, N.C. to take on the High Point Panthers. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom
"They outplayed us in every facet. Cliff (Ellis) had them well prepared. We struggled for everything. At one point we cut it to seven, and we missed two layups and they made a three. It was that kind of day."
"D.J. and Stan never really got it going and we had to work for everything. They played physical. Credit them. We didn't respond and that correlated into missed layups and missed free throws. We missed two one-and-one front ends in the first half and the game should have been tied at halftime."
"For the first time this year, we came out flat in the second half. We were in chase mode pretty much from then on. It was an alter ego that showed up today and we just didn't play very well. We just never had a sense of urgency the entire day; they were aggressive and we didn't respond."