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Late bucket lifts Morgan State over VMI, 81-80

A full court pass with two seconds remaining in overtime led to an Ian Chiles game-winning layup, giving the Morgan State Bears an 81-80 win over the VMI Keydets in non-conference basketball action Saturday afternoon at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va.

After the Keydets (3-5) had scored the final five points of regulation to tie the game, VMI pulled ahead by as many as four in overtime, going up 79-75 with three minutes remaining. Morgan State (3-3) went 4 of 6 at the foul line over the next 2:22, however, and that made it an 80-79 contest with just 38 seconds on the clock. Rodney Glasgow missed a 10-foot leaner late in the shot clock, and after a timeout, Thair Heath found Chiles with the full court pass and the 7’2″ center converted a left-handed lay-in over two Keydets as the clock ran out, giving the visitors the dramatic victory.

The Keydets were led by Stan Okoye, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds, while Brian Brown added 17 points of his own. Morgan State saw Shaquille Duncan (17 points, 14 rebounds) and Anthony Hubbard (15 points, 10 rebounds) post double-doubles, and the Bears used a 56-43 rebounding edge to their advantage. That rebound margin including 26 offensive rebounds, 20 of which came after halftime in VMI’s first overtime game of the year. It was the first VMI non-conference loss at Cameron Hall since Dec. 1, 2007, ending the Keydets’ 27-game winning streak in such contests.

The story of the game was Morgan State’s edge in the paint, not only in rebounding, but in scoring as well. The Bears scored 56 of their 60 points from the field in the paint, allowing the visitors to overcome a 58.3% effort from the foul line (21 of 36) and a 0 for 14 day from three-point range. That effort from distance made them the first Keydet opponent since Dec. 1, 2011 (Coastal Carolina) to fail to make a three-pointer.

The contest was back and forth early on, with seven ties in the first 8:20. Justin Black tied the game, 17-17, with a basket at the 11:40 mark, and then put the Bears up by two 17 seconds later, 19-17. MSU would gradually stretch its lead to six, 24-18, with 9:12 left in the half, helped by VMI missing its first 11 three-pointers, but the Keydets battled back. VMI would go on a run of making five straight three’s, and as part of that, put together a 7-0 march capped by an Okoye basket, and went back in front 25-24 with 7:34 on the clock.

That set up another back and forth sequence, with five ties over the next three-plus minutes, but Brown hit a three-pointer to put VMI in front, 40-37 with 3:01 left in the half. That started a 14-4 run that the Keydets would close the half on, as VMI used its spurt of strong outside shooting to take a 49-39 advantage into halftime.

The Keydets took advantage of 14 MSU turnovers in the first half to run up a 19-6 edge in points off turnovers, as they were led by Okoye (13) and Brown (11) in the first half. MSU went 16 of 29 from the field (55.2%) in the first 20 minutes, while VMI countered by hitting 18 of 38 (47.4%) and made six of its final seven three-pointers.

There were 11 ties and nine lead changes in the back and forth first 20 minutes, but the Keydets quickly stretched the lead to 13 early in the second half. The lead was still 11, 57-46, with 14:46 to play, but MSU launched a 10-2 run over the next 4:34, capped by a Hubbard basket that made it a 59-56 contest. Moments later, D.J. Covington picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench.

The Keydets were able to fend off the Bears for several minutes, pulling back ahead after multiple ties until Black broke a 66-all deadlock with a basket with 6:10 to go, giving MSU its first lead of the second half, 68-66. That advantage grew to six, equaling the Bears’ biggest lead, but the Keydets came back over the final 3:05. Two Okoye free throws cut the deficit to four, and after Covington fouled out and Duncan split two for MSU, Okoye got two more from the charity stripe to make it 73-70.

The Keydets missed four three-pointers in a wild sequence over the next minute, but Okoye fought for a rebound and drew Black’s fifth foul with 23 seconds on the clock. The senior drilled one of two to cut the lead to two, and Duncan would miss two for Morgan State to give VMI a chance. Glasgow took advantage, drawing a foul well away from the basket and drilling two free throws with 10 seconds to go, tying the game at 73. Neither team could score over the final 10 seconds, so the contest went to the first overtime game at Cameron Hall since Dec. 31, 2011 against Presbyterian.

Four early points by Okoye gave VMI the 79-75 edge with three minutes to go, but Chiles went 4 for 4 from the line to keep his team in the game and set up the final dramatic moments. His game-winning basket was MSU’s first field goal of the overtime and marked the 12th lead change of the contest.

In scoring 29 points, Okoye passed both Ramon and Damon Williams ’90 and moved into eighth place on VMI’s all-time scoring list with 1,649 career markers. The Keydets hit 27 of 72 (37.5%) from the floor on the night, and forced overtime with a gritty second half effort despite shooting just 7 of 29 (24.1%) in the second half. Morgan State hit 30 of 70 from the field (42.9%) in the victory.

VMI basketball will return to action Monday, taking on the University of Virginia – Lynchburg at Cameron Hall. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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