WASHINGTON, D.C. – Guard Larry Motuzis scored 26 points including 21 in the second half to lead American University past VMI, 69-64, Saturday afternoon at Bender Arena.
In the first ever basketball meeting between the schools, American won its second straight and raised its mark to 2-3 while the Keydets had their two-game win streak snapped and fell to 2-3.
VMI sophomore forward Tyler Creammer recorded his first career-double double with 16 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Greg Parham scored a career-high 12 points which included two three-point shots.
American sophomore guard Sa’eed Nelson contributed 21 points for the Eagles hitting eight of 16 shots from the floor and guard CB Diallo chipped in 10 points.
The Eagles shot 50% for the game and were 5 of 12 beyond the arc in the first half, but cooled down to 2 of 8 from long distance. VMI was just 3 of 19 in 3-point shooting but out-rebounded the Eagles 38-27.
Down 47-34 with four minutes into the second half, VMI mounted a furious rally putting together a 17-6 spurt fueled by hot shooting from Greg Parham and guard Jordan Ratliff. A 3-point play by Parham pulled the Keydets within 53-51 with 8:20 remaining. Keith Smith converted one of two free throws to to make it 59-56 at the 3:34 mark, but that would be as close as VMI would come the rest of the way.
VMI’s starting backcourt was limited by foul trouble in the first half as Smith picked up two quick fouls four minutes into the game and fellow guard Bubba Parham absorbed his second foul at the 12:16 mark. Both sat for the remainder of the half as the Keydets saw an early nine-point advantage turned into a 35-29 American lead at intermission thanks to a 24-9 run.
Creammer hit six of eight from the floor and grabbed six offensive rebounds in logging his first double-double.
The Keydets outscored American 34-30 in points in the paint and held a 13-4 advantage in second half points, but committed 15 turnovers that led to 24 Eagle Points.
VMI will wrap up the two-game road swing Tuesday night at Charleston Southern. Tip-off will be 7:30 pm.
VMI HEAD COACH DAN EARL –
“It was frustrating in some ways but I thought we played hard throughout. A couple of times defensively we didn’t contain the ball like we needed to but our guys will learn from it. It wasn’t a lack of effort, it was a lack of experience. We didn’t make shots. It’s tough to get a win when you are 3 of 19 from three but it’s something where we have to get into the gym and stay confident and fire away when they are open shots. I thought we got some open looks. They just didn’t fall. Proud of the effort but we have to get better at the execution of things.”