Keydets Drop Heartbreaker at The Citadel, 84-82
Courtesy: VMIKeydets.com

CHARLESTON, S.C – Senior guard Quayson Williams hit a driving layup at the buzzer to lift The Citadel to an 84-82 win over VMI Saturday afternoon at McAlister Field House.

It was the lone basket of the day for Williams as The Citadel (10-11, 2-7 SoCon) snapped an eight-game losing streak while the Keydets fell to 7-14, 1-8 SoCon.

With the score tied 82-82, VMI called timeout with 20.7 seconds to draw up a play. Forward Sarju Patel missed a left baseline 3-pointer jumper with eight seconds remaining and an off-balance follow-up attempt by junior guard Garrett Gilkeson was unsuccessful before Citadel forward Zane Najdawi grabbed the rebound with four seconds left. With play continuing, Williams then grabbed the ball and raced down the right sideline before launching the game winning layup.

The Keydets rallied from an 11-point first half deficit to take the lead on an 11-0 run midway in the second half. Sophomore guard Greg Parham floated a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie the game at 62-62 with 9:29 left and layups by junior center Tyler Creammer and Bubba Parham pushed the Keydets on top, 66-62 at the 7:17 mark. The Keydet lead grew to as much as six points (66-62) after a pair of Parham free throws.

The Citadel responded with a Stallworth driving layup and 3-pointer by guard Kern Connor to make it a no more than a four-point game for the last five minutes of regulation.

Parham led the Keydets in scoring with 24 points – his 18th career 20 point game while Gilkeson produced a double-double with 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Myles Lewis added 14 points for the Keydets with 12 coming in the first half.

Creammer, who recently returned to action after missing two games with a sprained ankle, scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 26 minutes of action.

Stallworth led all scorers with 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field and five-of-six from the line. Najdawi added a double-double for the Bulldogs with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Hayden Brown grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out at the 2:43 mark.

The Citadel shot 47.1% from the floor but connected on just 7 of 30 three-point attempts while going 13- of-17 from the line. The Bulldogs outscored the Keydets in the paint, 48-24, but were outrebounded 43-39 on the boards.

VMI committed nine first half turnovers  which The Citadel converted into 10 points to help build a 44-36 halftime lead. The Keydets controlled the ball better in the second half and turned it over just four times after the break.

The Keydets wrap up their three-game conference road swing Thursday night at UNCG at 7 pm.  

VMI HEAD COACH DAN EARL –

“I think if you were a basketball fan today watching this you would have appreciated it. Both teams were fighting their tails off. Both teams competed. Certainly credit to The Citadel for how hard they played and they ended up making one more play. It’s hard, because you our guys wanted it so hard. We had multiple guys go in there and grab rebounds and they scratched and clawed and sometimes it comes down to a bounce of the ball.”

“I can’t say enough about Garrett Gilkeson. He goes out there and affects the game so many different ways. We’re starting to see it on his stat sheet more and he is able to score the ball a little bit more. He’s all over the place, talking on defense and making stops and keeping balls alive.”

“It was a good learning experience for us playing in this atmosphere. Their cadets were here and it was a tribute to them for coming out. Early on, I thought both teams were a little tight. We were throwing the ball away and were tight on shots. We had to settle in a little bit more.  After about five or six minutes into the game, from there on out, they just played through the environment and continued throughout.”

“Tyler Creammer came off the bench tonight and I thought he was moving really well and he  gave us a spark scoring some buckets and rebounding the ball and playing tough.”