VMI senior guard Rodney Glasgow scored 25 points and freshman guard Q.J. Peterson added 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Keydets defeated Liberty, 77-70 Saturday night before 2,595 at the Vines Center.
With the win, the Keydets rebounded from an earlier mid-week home loss to coastal carolina and secured sole possession of first place in the Big South North Division with a 8-4 league mark, a half-game ahead of high point which stands 7-4. The Keydets (15-10) also won for the seventh time over the last nine outings. Liberty (9-18, 3-9) dropped its sixth straight game.
Glasgow tallied 14 points in the second half on his way to a team-high 25 markers that included three treys. The senior also dished out seven assists while Peterson, the leading scored in the Big South, posted his third double-double of the season and his 15th game of 20 or more points.
VMI senior center D.J. Covington overcame a 4-of-11 shooting night and logged his 13th double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds and his turnaround lane jumper with 1:59 left in regulation tied the game at 68-68. Covington rebounded a John Caleb Sanders miss on the ensuing possession and VMI called a 30-second timeout. Peterson then scored on a driving layup to put VMI up for good, 70-68 at the :56 mark. Covington seconds later blocked a Sanders shot which was rebounded by Peterson and Glasgow was fouled at the :33 mark and converted a pair of free throws to push the Keydet lead to 72-68. Liberty forward Antwan Burress hit what turned out to be Liberty’s final bucket of the night to trim the lead to two, but the Keydets behind Jordan Weethee, Phillip Anglade, and Covington drained five of six from the charity stripe over the final :23.9 seconds to seal the win.
VMI hit 15 of 17 from the free throw line on the night while Liberty labored through a 6 of 17 outing in free tosses.
Weethee hit double figures for the second game with 14 points. Burruss paced the Flames in scoring with 23 points and drained 11 of 19 shots from the field. Sanders and Davon Marshall contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the hosts.
The Keydets were edged on the boards Saturday, 42-40, a far cry from the -21 margin in the first meeting between the teams when Liberty prevailed 85-80 at Cameron Hall.
Liberty raced to a 6-0 lead behind the shooting of Burrus and led 10-5 before the Keydets caught stride and put together a 12-5 spurt capped by a Weethee putback that gave VMI a 17-15 lead at the 11:08 mark of the opening half. The Keydets kept rolling with eight more points to extend the margin to eight and assumed its largest lead of the first half when back-to-back treys by Weethee and Peterson gave VMI its largest lead of the half, 31-22, with 2:54 left.
The Keydets led 33-26 at the break and appeared poised to break the game open when when a 9-0 run capped by a pair of Trey Chapman free throws gave VMI its largest lead of the game, 46-34, with 15:46 lef t in the second half. The Flames erased the deficit over the next three minutes with a 12-0 run that ended when Burruss pushed in a shot to tie the game at 48-48 with 12 minutes left. Liberty hit 10 of its first 15 shots from the field in the second half to pull even after shooting 38% in the first half.
The game saw two more ties and two lead changes before Covington and Peterson hit their decisive field goals under the two-minute mark of regulation.
VMI returns home to face North Division rival Campbell (6-6) Wednesday night at Cameron at 7 pm.