BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - In the longest game in Division I men's basketball this season, the VMI Keydets made last-second shots to force the first overtime, the third overtime and a fourth extra period and went on to defeat the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs, 108-104, in a four-overtime classic in Big South basketball action Wednesday night in Boiling Springs, N.C. It was just the second four-overtime game on record in VMI basketball history, joining a Feb. 1967 game against the Citadel, and was the first Division I men’s game to go over three OT’s since Feb. 23, 2013, a game between Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Gardner-Webb (12-12, 5-4 Big South) had a chance to seal the win in regulation, but point guard Tyler Strange made just one of two free throws with nine seconds to go. After the miss, the Keydets (13-9, 6-3 Big South) went the length of the court and Brian Brown drilled a fallaway three pointer as time expired, sending the contest to overtime.
That was only the beginning of the marathon, however, as the teams managed just two points apiece in the first extra frame and went to a second OT, tied 75-all, when a QJ Peterson shot would not fall with five seconds to go. GWU again appeared on the verge of victory in that second OT, taking a four-point lead with 13 seconds left, but Peterson cut it to two with a quick layup and the Keydets fouled. Jerome Hill, who had been perfect at the line, split two free throws to make 88-85, but the home team fouled Peterson before VMI could get a shot away.
The Big South’s leading scorer made the first foul shot and intentionally missed the second. The ball clanged off the front rim, off a Gardner-Webb player and out of bounds, giving VMI another chance, and the Keydets took full advantage with a last second Rodney Glasgow-D.J. Covington lob for the tying score, sending the game to a third overtime knotted at 88.
The teams traded 5-0 runs and baskets to start the third OT, but it was Runnin’ Bulldog Naji Hibbert who drilled a jumper with three seconds on the clock to, again, put his team on the verge of victory, up 97-95. After a timeout for each team, the Keydets inbounded to Covington again. He found Tim Marshall cutting to the basket for a last-second lay-in, tying the score at 97-all and sending the contest on to yet another extra frame.
The Keydets finally seized control in the fourth overtime, opening the period on a 7-0 run that included five Glasgow points to take a 104-97 lead. GWU got back within three, 104-101, but Covington blocked a Strange jumper with 27 seconds to go and made a foul shot with six seconds left to seal the win and account for the final margin, 108-104.
VMI put five players in double figures in the win, led by Covington’s 28 points and 13 rebounds. Brown tied his career high with 22 points, while Glasgow added 21 points and 12 assists. Peterson chipped in 20, and all four of VMI’s top scorers on the night played at least 54 of a possible 60 minutes, with Brown leading the pack at 59 minutes played. In addition, Covington (28/13/five blocks) and Glasgow (21/12/five steals) were the first teammates to post 20/10/5 nights in those stats in the same game, since the turn of the century, according to ESPN research.
Gardner-Webb was led by Tyrell Nelson, who had 24 points and 25 rebounds off the bench.
The Keydets had the early edge on Wednesday night, leading by as many as eight in the first half before the home team rallied. VMI was up, 28-20, after a Brown three with 5:57 left in the half, but GWU answered with a 12-4 run to tie the score, 32-32. Brown made another three to account for VMI’s three-point halftime lead, 35-32, after a half that saw VMI commit nine turnovers and lead by only three despite shooting 50% from the field.
The Keydets would stretch that lead back to five, 43-38, early in the second half before a 9-2 GWU run, capped by a Josh Castellanos triple at the 14:29 mark, gave the Runnin’ Bulldogs a 47-45 lead. That was the home team’s first lead of the night, and set up five lead changes and four ties over the next seven-plus minutes.
Covington capped the back and forth play with a basket with 7:12 left, giving VMI the lead at 59-58 and starting a 7-0 run that included five straight points by Tim Marshall. That made the score 64-58, VMI, with 5:36 remaining, and the Keydets maintained the six point lead after a hoop by Peterson with 4:51 on the clock.
GWU had one more run, however, a 12-4 push that Donta Harper ended with a layup with 1:43 left to give his team a 72-70 lead. That would be the home team’s last field goal of regulation, as Strange scored its final point by splitting two free throws to set up the night’s first dramatic act, Brown’s buzzer-beater three-pointer to start the sequence of overtimes.
In other statistical notes from the evening, Glasgow’s 12 assists were a career-high and VMI’s most since Ron Burks had 13 in Nov. of 2009. GWU took advantage of 18 Keydet turnovers to put up 99 shots, going 36 of 99 overall (36.4%) and 25 of 30 at the line (83.3%), which marked 15 more made free throws than VMI’s 10 of 19 effort.
The Keydets won despite being outrebounded 63-55 overall and 30-18 on the offensive glass. VMI finished the night 43 of 89 (48.3%) from the floor and went 14 of 28 (50%) in the overtime periods, while hitting 12 of 27 (44.4%) from long-range led by Brown’s six triples.
VMI basketball returns to action Saturday, taking on Charleston Southern at 1 p.m. at Cameron Hall.
QUOTES – VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom
“Bless my guys. I just kept telling them to believe. Some of those overtimes, we were completely out of it. Miraculous things had to happen and they did. I am super proud of my guys.”
“Tim Marshall gave us unbelievable minutes tonight. He guarded and played. He certainly made the most of his minutes.”
“I told the guys when we went to the fourth overtime that someone was watching out for us. Tonight we had guys who hadn't been real visible and that came up and were extremely valuable.”
“Brian Brown came home and played great. I couldn't be happier for him.”