Home Record-breaking Q.J. Peterson scoring outburst pushes VMI past Mercer

Record-breaking Q.J. Peterson scoring outburst pushes VMI past Mercer


vmiQ.J. Peterson broke the VMI single-game scoring record by scoring 46 points to lead the VMI Keydets over the Mercer Bears, 91-82, in Southern Conference basketball action Thursday night at Cameron Hall in Lexington.

It was the highest scoring output by a SoCon player since former Western Carolina star Kevin Martin scored 46 against Coastal Carolina on Nov. 22, 2002, and broke the previous VMI school record of 45 set by Reggie Williams in 2006.

Peterson scored 21 points in the first half as the Keydets jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead, and at one crucial juncture of the second half, scored 10 consecutive points to help VMI stave off an attempted Mercer rally.

The junior guard finished 12 of 25 from the floor, made five three-pointers and, with a 17 of 18 effort from the line, fell just two free throws shy of the VMI single-game record in that category (19). He also fell one rebound shy of a double-double as he grabbed nine boards, and Peterson set a career-high with three blocked shots as well.

Two three-pointers by Peterson in the early going set the tone, as Mercer led the game for just 18 seconds all night, that being when the score was 8-6. Tim Marshall immediately hit a three on VMI’s next possession, and the Keydets never trailed again. VMI closed the half on a 9-2 run and took an 11-point lead into the locker room at the break.

Mercer mounted a rally to open the second half, closing to within three at the 16:58 mark, but Fred Iruafemi scored five straight points as the Keydets went back up by eight, 49-41, with 15:32 remaining.

10 straight points by Peterson beginning at the 11:12 mark helped the Keydets widen their lead to 10, but Mercer had two more rallies. The Bears closed to within five with 7:53 on the clock, but Julian Eleby and Peterson scored four points in a nine-second span to stem that attempt.

The visitors then used a 6-0 run to make it a one-possession game with under four minutes to play, but Iruafemi drilled a 15-foot jumper from the wing and Mercer got no closer than five the rest of the way. VMI went 8 for 8 at the free throw line in the final 1:57 to ice the victory.

In addition to Peterson, Eleby added 20 points and Marshall chipped in with 17. Mercer put six players in double figures, paced by Phillip Leonard’s 16 markers.

For the game, the Keydets shot 24 of 57 from the floor (42.1%) and 12 of 34 (35.3%) from the long range. Mercer made the same number of field goals, 24, but the Keydets made seven more free throws and wound up shooting a blistering 31 of 34 (91.2%) from the foul line to hold on for the win.

Finally, Jordan weethee tied alumni Keith Gabriel and Michael Sparks for the most games played in VMI basketball history (124).

VMI basketball will return to action Saturday, when the Keydets play host to The Citadel Bulldogs at Cameron Hall. Game time is set for 1 p.m.


Press Conference: VMI head coach Dan Earl

“QJ (Peterson) played well and extremely hard and his shot was falling. He played the right way and 17 of 18 from the free throw line doesn’t hurt either. He had nine rebounds which I like to see. Four assists and three blocks. It was a full game.”

“I thought we moved the ball very well, in fact, there were times where I thought we passed up open shots and I wanted them to shoot earlier, but give Mercer a lot of credit – they are a tough team and had six guys in double figures and shot very well from the free throw line and stayed with it till the end.”

“I thought we played tough down the stretch and to only lose the rebounding war by six I think showed that we played with some toughness tonight.”

“If we don’t make our free throws at the end, it could be very interesting, so give our guys credit knocking down free throws.”

“I thought Fred Iruafemi was awesome. No other way to put it. We always talk about guys coming in and affecting a game. You look at the stat sheet and -I’ll take 46 anytime – Fred had seven points, three rebounds -not unbelievable from a stat sheet perspective, but he had a big block and hit that timely shot to put us back up by five late in the second half. And he played very good defense and made them shoot over him.”

“With Tim Marshall making threes, we are an entirely different team with a third scoring threat.”

“I hope everyone comes out and supports us, but especially for VMI-Citadel. The rivalry is huge and with Coach Baucom being here last year and recruiting a lot of our players, there will be emotions flying, but once the ball is tipped, I think everyone will settle down. Hopefully on Senior Day, everybody is going to be playing hard for them.”



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