CLINTON, S.C – Presbyterian College placed four in double figures and held a 40-18 advantage in points in the paint to post a 77-67 win over VMI Tuesday night in Clinton, S.C.
In a rematch of former Big South foes, senior forward Ed Drew scored 17 points and junior guard Reggie Dillard added 16 points as the Blue Hose (2-2) snapped a two game losing streak. VMI remained winless in road games and fell to 1-3 on the season.
VMI senior guard Q.J. Peterson was VMI’s lone double-figures scorer and tallied 14 points including six 3-pointers. Sophomore forward Austin Vereen and freshman guard Keith Smith each added nine points.
The Keydets were hampered by 16 turnovers including nine in the first half which helped erase a VMI lead and fueled PC to a lead it would not relinquish.
VMI shot 43.3% for the game including 10 of 31 beyond the arc but got to the line for just 11 attempts – hitting seven.
Presbyterian overcame 12 of 25 free throw shooting from the line and shot 49.2% from the floor while outrebounding the Keydets, 38-32. The Blue Hose converted the 16 VMI turnovers into 24 points and had a 10-3 advantage in second half points.
The Keydets played without the services of starting forward Trey Chapman for all but 1:19 of the first half after he picked up two quick fouls shortly after the opening tip. Chapman returned in the second half to help spark VMI’s late rally and scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds.
Despite the absence of Chapman, VMI opened up a lead it would hold throughout the first 16 minutes of the first half thanks to strong perimeter shooting. The Keydets canned four of its first six shots from the floor including two treys by Peterson to build its largest lead of the first half at 13-8. The Blue Hose continued to chip away with inside scoring and reeled off a 9-0 run to jump ahead - taking the lead on a J.C. Younger steal and layup and capitalizing on three straight VMI turnovers. A Vareen 3-pointer ended the Blue Hose scoring spurt and the Keydets pulled within 32-30 with 14 seconds remaining in the half before Dilliard nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing as the buzzer sounded to put the hosts up 35-30 at the break.
Chapman started the second half for the Keydets and immediately scored followed by a Peterson bucket to pull the Keydets within 35-34. Presbyterian countered with a 16-2 run over the next 5+ minutes to assume its largest lead of the game when Younger drilled a 3-pointer to make it 51-36 with 13:09 left.
The Keydets trailed by double digits until the 6:01 mark when Smith stuck a wing 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 63-54. Twice VMI sliced the margin to 5 points – the latest on a Peterson free throw with 1:11 remaining to pull VMI within 70-65.
The Keydets played tight defense on the next PC possession and with the ball on the perimeter and shot clock winding down, Dillard threaded a bullet pass through the VMI defense to Drew under the basket for a quick layup with two ticks left on the possession. A steal and driving dunk by Dillard on the ensuing VMI possession made it a nine point bulge with :36 left and too much for VMI to overcome.
VMI registered five blocks for the game including three by junior Fred Irafemi who was also limited by foul trouble in the second half picking up his fourth foul at the 11:38 mark.
VMI returns to action Saturday afternoon in Lexington against Campbell, another former Big South opponent, with tipoff at Cameron Hall slated for 1 p.m.
VMI Head Coach Dan Earl -
“Unfortunately, they beat us in a variety of different areas. One of the biggest was they were the tougher team tonight. They beat us down low, but they also made shots from the perimeter. If a team’s going to shoot 49.2% from the field and 45.5% from the three, it’s going to be tough to combat that. They won the rebounding war as well, so we just have to look ourselves in the mirror and get tougher, get better, and learn from it.”
“We continued to fight, but unfortunately you can’t fight that late when shots start falling. It’s a variety of things, whether it’s boxing out, or a defensive rotation, or being stronger on the ball on offense. We turned the ball over too many times and it wasn’t a great night on the whole, but we did continue to fight. We made it close at the end, but it was a little too late.”
“Taking care of the basketball – that’s been a theme for us this season – our assist to turnover ratio has to improve and we did not do that tonight. Again, credit Presbyterian…they got into us and made life difficult for some of guys who are known as scorers more and we did not adapt well.”
“We’ll have to get better before Campbell comes in. They are a talented team and a good opponent and we have to be ready to go.”