LEXINGTON, Va. - Playing in their final home game at Cameron Hall seems to have sparked Virginia Military Institute forward D.J. Covington and guard Rodney Glasgow. The former posted 29 points while the latter dropped in 26 to help spark the Keydets to an 88-76 win over visiting Radford University Saturday afternoon.
Covington added 13 rebounds on the afternoon for his 14th double-double of the season, just two days removed from his 33-point effort Wednesday night against Campbell University.
Prior to tipoff, the team honor its three seniors, Covington, Glasgow and Drew Absher, who made his first career start..
With the win, the Keydets secured a first-round bye in the upcoming VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference Basketball Championship. The Championships run from March 5-9.
Covington and Glasgow led all shooters, while Radford’s Javonte Green put up 21 points. Green was joined by in double-digits by teammates Jalen Carethers, who had 14, Brandon Holcomb and R.J. Price, both of whom had 11.Rashun added eight assists for the visitors.
The Keydets (17-10, 10-4 BSC) got another nine points from freshman Trey Chapman, seven of which came in a three-minute span late in the second half to help stave off a late Highlander run. Jordan Weethee chipped in nine points, as did freshman QJ Peterson.
Rebounding was a point of emphasis for VMI in its 10th Big South win, grabbing 40 rebounds, while limiting Radford to 32. VMI, which has double-digit conference wins for the fourth time in program history, out-rebounded Radford 27-12 in the first half, which helped lead to 14 second chance points for the Keydets.
Covington nearly had the double-double in the first half after posting 11 points and nine boards in the first 20 minutes. Glasgow was the leader at the break with 14 points while Radford (18-11, 8-6 BSC) was without a double-digit scorer at the half.
VMI, which played its final Big South Conference game at Cameron Hall, had a solid afternoon from the field, finishing at 50.8 percent (31-61), including a blistering 61.9 percent pace in the second half. Covington led VMI’s shooting efforts, going 10-of-13 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free throw line.
The Keydets, who won their 13th game in Cameron Hall this season, tying the building record for a single season, got off to a hot start, building to an 11-4 advantage in the first four minutes, with five different players scoring in that stretch.
But the Highlanders fought down the VMI lead, pulling within three at the 12:10 mark, 15-12. VMI regained control of the momentum and regained a double-digit lead, 25-13, with 9:18 left to play in the half.
Arguably the play of the game was at the 6:33 mark when Peterson tossed up what appeared to be a wide shot, only to have Covington put down the alley-oop, giving the Keydets a 15-point, 31-16 lead and bringing the Corps of Cadets and the entire crowd to their feet. VMI got its biggest lead of the game, 34-16, on its next trip down the floor as Glasgow knocked down a three pointer.
Radford pulled back within 11 points of VMI before halftime, sending the Keydets to the locker room up 44-33.
VMI maintained its double-digit lead to begin the second half, but the Highlanders pulled within nine at the 16:13 mark on a Green layup. But the single-digit lead was short lived after a Covington layup at the other end on a Weethee dish, putting VMI up 56-45.
The Keydets kept their distance from Radford over the next four minutes before the Highlanders again pulled within single digits, 60-51 with 12:41 to play. A layup and a three pointer from Weethee, however, moved VMI to a 66-51 lead just a minute later.
Defense was key to the middle portion of the second half as the Keydets held Radford without a field goal for nearly four minutes and only allowed two free throws in that stretch. VMI utilized the lack of Highlander scoring to regain a 17-point lead, capped by a Covington jumper before the next Radford field goal.
Radford was threatening the Keydet lead with 5:11 to play as the Highlanders whittled the lead back to just six points, going on a 13-2 run over a three minute span to make it 74-68 in favor of VMI. But VMI held off the charge, thanks to Chapman’s late surge.
VMI, winners of eight of its last 10, hits the road for its final two Big South Conference games, beginning Wednesday night at High Point University’s Millis Center. Action is set for 7 p.m.
Quote - VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom
"I had told our guys that I thought Austin Kenon's 39 points was the biggest Senior Day, but what they were able to do today with what was on the line was even bigger. What was crazy was the seniors made great plays but it came down to Trey Chapman with a big three and a timely rebound and put back and Jordan Weethee hit some big shots. It takes everybody to win."
"I am especially happy for my seniors Rodney Glasgow, DJ Covington, and especially Drew Absher who made his first career start. He helped give us a 9-4 lead when he exited. I'm proud of him."
"I thought Phillip Anglade made some key defensive plays at the end."
"We shot the ball better in the second half after getting the ball into DJ and taking it to the rim and not shooting as many threes unless they were open."
"DJ really took it up a notch today. He's playing at a high level. We had a pretty big rebounding lead at the half. It finished a little closer than I liked and we gave up a few more offensive rebounds when we tried to get out and guard the three-point line."
"The guys focused on the scouting report and we had two really good practices. I'm just really proud of them. I was really pleased with our defense. We held out the game plan as was designed and the players did a great job.""It all boils down to Wednesday night (High Point) and we'll see what happens, but this was pretty sweet on Senior Day."