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VMI falls to Virginia Tech, 95-80

A career night for junior center D.J. Covington was not enough as the VMI basketball team battled with nearby foe Virginia Tech, as the Hokies took the 130th meeting between the teams 95-80 Thursday night in Blacksburg.

Covington finished with a career-high and game-high tying 23 points at Cassell Coliseum, hitting 10 of his 17 shots from the field. With his point total, Covington helped VMI post a 20-point scorer in each of the first four games on the young season.

Covington was joined in double figures by teammates Rodney Glasgow and Stan Okoye, each of whom put up 13. Okoye was the Keydets’ leading rebounder, pulling down seven boards.

Opposite VMI, the Hokies were paced by Erick Green’s 23 points, while four Virginia Tech players reach double-digits. Jarrell Eddie was the Hokies’ second leading scorer with 17 points, while big man Cadarian Raines put up 14 points. Robert Brown and C.J. Barksdale each put up 11 points.

Virginia Tech (3-0) was strong from the floor in the first half, converting over half of its field goal attempts (19-37). The Hokies took a 16-point lead into the break after hitting seven three-pointers in the opening half. VMI struggled to find the bottom of the net in the opening period, hitting 11 of its 31 field goals, but only three of 11 from deep.

But the Keydets (1-3) rebounded in the second half, hitting 45.2 percent of their shots (19-42) over the final 20 minutes, including five treys. So far this season, the Keydets have been the best three-point shooting team Virginia Tech has faced. Entering the Thursday night tilt, the Hokies allowed only four three pointers against 37 attempts in their first two games.

VMI took control early in the game as Glasgow hit back-to-back three points, broken up by a Virginia Tech layup. The Keydets held onto the lead until things were knotted at 12 on a Green three-pointer.

Thirty-seconds later, the Hokies took the lead for good, aided by a 16-3 run over the next five minutes of the game. Late in the first half, VMI could not string together shots, and headed into the locker room down 46-30. The Hokies out-rebounded VMI 27-12 in the first half. All 12 VMI rebounds came on the defense end of the floor, holding the Keydets without a second-chance point in the first half.

After the chance to make halftime adjustments, VMI came back and put up 50 points in the second half, outscoring the Hokies by one. The Keydets were stronger on the boards as well, pulling down 21 rebounds in the second half, including 10 on offense.

Virginia Tech continued to shoot well, however, eventually building to a 29-point lead midway through the second stanza. In the second half, the Hokies hit 17 of their 31 attempts (54.8 percent), but allowed VMI to connect on 19 of its 42 shot attempts (45.2 percent).

But despite the large deficit, VMI continued to battle, whittling the Hokie lead down 15 points with two and half minutes left in the game. VMI began a 16-0 run with 4:58 sparked by a Gavin Stephenson free throw. Over the course of the next three minutes, the Keydets connected on their free throws, helping VMI to an 80-percent finish from the line (12-15) in the game.

The run was too little, too late, however, as the Hokies held on for the win.

After playing four games in a six-day span, the Keydets are idle until Wednesday, Nov. 21 when they head to Norfolk, Va. to face the Monarchs of Old Dominion University. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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