Late three lifts VMI past Citadel, 66-65

vmi_logo2Trey Chapman forced a turnover with 27 seconds to go and hit the game-winning three-pointer on the ensuing possession, propelling the VMI Keydets past The Citadel Bulldogs, 66-65, in the opener of the 2014-15 All-Military Classic Friday night at Army’s Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y. The game was the season opener for both clubs, and with the win, VMI (1-0) advances to play the winner of the nightcap, the host Army Black Knights, at 8 p.m. Saturday evening. It will mark the third time in four years the Keydets will play for the tournament title.

The Citadel (0-1) will play in the 5:30 p.m. third-place game against Air Force.

After a back and forth final five minutes, The Citadel took a two-point lead into the final minute. After QJ Peterson turned the ball over following a lengthy replay review with one minute remaining, Chapman defended Quinton Marshall on the Bulldogs’ next possession. The sophomore badgered Marshall into a five-second closely guarded violation for a turnover, giving the Keydets the ball with the shot clock turned off. Peterson made a driving play into the lane and kicked the ball to Chapman in the left corner for the eventual game-winner, but VMI had to make one more defensive play.

The Citadel put the ball in the hands of Ashton Moore, who had 18 second half points, for its final possession, but Moore was forced into an awkward 15-footer and missed. The rebound was tipped in the air by multiple players and the clock ran out, allowing VMI to secure its sixth win over its past seven season openers.

Peterson led VMI with 25 points, 18 of which came in the first half as the sophomore kept VMI close. Moore scored 24 to lead the Bulldogs in a game that saw VMI hold a 31-22 edge on the boards, including 12-4 in offensive rebounds. The Citadel had a 32-20 edge in points in the paint, but the Keydets held an 8-6 edge in that statistic in the second half.

Chapman scored in the opening seconds to give VMI a 2-0 lead, but The Citadel scored on its next possession to tie the game. VMI would not lead for the remainder of the first half, as the Bulldogs stretched their margin to as many as 11, 30-19, at the 6:45 mark.

Citadel still led by 11, 34-23, with 4:41 left in the half, but the Keydets scored nine of the half’s final 13 points to cut the margin to six, 38-32, at halftime.

The Citadel controlled the inside in the first 20 minutes, outscoring VMI 26-12 in the paint and forcing seven Keydet turnovers. The second half was a different story, however, as the Keydets roared out of the locker room with a 9-0 run to a three-point lead, 41-38 with 16:07 remaining. The Keydets held the Bulldogs without a field goal for the opening 8:13 of the second half, and all told, it was an 18-4 run dating back to the first half that gave the Keydets the lead.

It was an advantage that would stretch to as many as seven before Moore scored at the 10:07 mark to make it 51-46. That was part of 15 straight Citadel points scored by Moore, and he brought his team back into the contest. C.J. Bray then tied the game with a three-pointer with 3:49 remaining, the first Citadel field goal by a player other than Moore in the entire second half.

Moore scored with 3:28 to go, giving the Bulldogs a 62-60 lead, and converted a free throw moments later to push the lead to three. Brian Brown then hit a three, tying the score, and leading to two P.J. Horgan free throws that gave the Bulldogs a two-point lead with 2:43 left. Those were the final points scored before Chapman’s last minute heroics pushed VMI to victory.

The Keydet victory was fueled by improved three-point shooting in the second half, as VMI went from a 4 for 14 (28.6%) first half to a 7 for 15 second half (46.7%). No player was a bigger factor in the improvement than Brian Brown, who scored all 16 of his points, including four three-pointers, in the second half.

VMI finished 26 of 58 (44.8%) from the floor and 11 of 29 (37.9%) from three-point range, winning despite going just 3 of 4 from the foul line. The Citadel hit 17 of 22 (77.3%) at the line, as well as 23 of 42 (54.8%) from the floor and 2 of 4 from downtown.

In addition to Moore, The Citadel got 14 points and six rebounds from Horgan, while VMI notched nine points and eight rebounds from Jordan Weethee.

VMI basketball will return to action Saturday, playing in the title game of the All-Military Classic against the host Army Black Knights. Action gets underway at 8 p.m. at Army’s Christl Arena.

 

QUOTES – VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom

ON THE ENDING SEQUENCE, BEGINNING WITH THE REPLAY REVIEW WITH A MINUTE TO GO – “Yeah, that was crazy. Replay was down, they said they had a bad angle…The whole ending was just crazy. We turned it over and then got it back. We called timeout and good things happened. They had been in a zone, and we had a zone play called. They went to a different defense and we shouted out another play. QJ made an outstanding play – Trey made the shot and Phillip Anglade set the screen to let it all happen. None of that would have happened without execution.”

ON DEFENSE AGAINST MOORE ON GAME’S FINAL POSSESSION – “We had worked really hard on doubling ball screens on him, and ironically, Trey Chapman had missed an assignment earlier. Phillip Anglade got good position, we doubled the ball and made their best player make a really tough play to beat us. Fortunately for us, it didn’t go in and we did a very good job tapping the ball out.”

ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIRST HALF AND SECOND HALF – “We just relaxed and really started playing. Usually you get through a media timeout or two and you relax, but we never really did in that first half. We were very calm at halftime, and just told the guys to relax and play the way they’re capable of playing. We held them without a field goal for the first eight minutes of the second half. We were much more active in the second half after getting a bit tired and stopping communicating in the first half. That was way better in the second half. Even when we were down, the guys were very resilient.”

ON ADVANCING – “The bad thing is if you beat Citadel, you have to play one of these two really good teams in the Championship game. It’ll be our third one in four years and you can’t ask for much more than that. We have an hour shootaround tomorrow to prepare, and we’ll scout and do the best we can on the quick turnaround.”

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