RICHMOND, Va. - Three free throws in the final seconds cost the VMI Keydets, as they were edged by the Richmond Spiders, 72-69, in men's basketball action Friday night at the Robins Center in Richmond. The game was the season opener for both teams.
Fred Iruafemi had split a pair of free throws with 14 seconds to go to tie the game for VMI, 69-69, but at the other end, he was whistled for his fifth foul. Keydet guard QJ Peterson then drew a technical foul, leading to a combined four free throws for UR.
ShawnDre' Jones made three of four, leaving the door open for the Keydets, but VMI could not get off a desperation three-point attempt as UR held on for the 72-69 win.
UR prevailed despite 29 points from Julian Eleby, who went 7 of 13 from three-point range to lead VMI. Jones led all scorers with 31 points and Peterson chipped in 18 for the Keydets.
The two teams were virtually even in the second half, not only playing to a 47-47 tie in the final 20 minutes, but also both shooting over 57% from the floor. Neither team led by more than six points, and there were three ties and a lead change over just the final 2:05.
The first half was a different story, as VMI shot just 20 percent from the field and 1 of 17 from three-point range. The Keydets outrebounded UR by nine in the opening period, however, allowing VMI to go to the locker room down just three. For the game, VMI finished with a 41-35 edge on the glass.
VMI basketball will return to action Tuesday, when the Keydets play host to Southern Virginia at Cameron Hall. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Dan Earl
"It was tough. I am proud of our guys certainly for fighting through. It was a tough way to end the game. At the end of the day you have to look at yourselves. Unfortunately we have to be more disciplined than that down the stretch. It was a very tough way to end the game. We have to learn from it. That's the biggest thing."
"At the same time, I was proud of their effort. I thought we competed the whole game. Certainly in the second half, we started making shots."
"I thought both teams defended hard throughout the game. I was proud of our guys especially on the defensive end of the floor."