VMI hoops falls at Citadel, 84-76

Mike Groselle had 21 points and 15 rebounds and The Citadel Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the floor, helping them defeat the VMI Keydets, 84-76, in game two of the All-Military Classic tournament Saturday at McAlister Field House in Charleston, S.C. With the win, The Citadel (1-0) advances to Sunday’s tournament championship against Air Force, while the Keydets (0-1) will face Army in the third-place game at 2 p.m.

Brian Brown led all scorers with a career-high 22 points, while D.J. Covington added 15 points and nine rebounds. The Keydets, however, could not overcome Citadel’s 27 of 54 night from the floor. The Bulldogs also hit 23 of 28 free throws (82.1 percent), including 12 of 13 by Marshall Harris III, compared to 8 of 10 for VMI (80 percent).

The Citadel took a 6-5 lead early, but the Keydets came back with a 16-4 push, a run capped by a Rodney Glasgow 3-pointer with 11:18 left in the half, giving VMI a 21-10 lead. The Bulldogs answered with a run of their own, going on a 17-5 run over the next eight-plus minutes and taking a 27-26 advantage on two free throws by Harris III with 3:02 on the clock.

The back and forth jostling continued, as Brown hit one of his seven triples to give the Keydets the lead once again, but the home team scored the next seven points and pulled ahead 34-29. As was the case all half, the Keydets came right back, this time with a Brown three-pointer and a Phillip Anglade dunk to tie the score at halftime, 34-34.

The first half, which featured five lead changes and four ties, was played relatively evenly as Citadel shot 38.5 percent to VMI’s 37.1 percent effort. Brown had 12 first half points, while Harris III had eight free throws for his Bulldog-leading total.

After the Bulldogs took the early second half lead, VMI came right back once more. A Brown triple at 17:09 gave the Keydets a one-point lead, and Stan Okoye drilled one of his own on VMI’s next possession to push the lead to four.

The Keydets missed a chance for more, however, as they were able to generate a turnover and come down the floor with a chance to increase that four-point margin. Brown missed a three-pointer, and Covington was whistled for an offensive foul that gave the ball back to The Citadel, which scored the next four points to tie the game, 48-48, with 15 minutes to go.

The teams then exchanged the lead and produced another tie, 51-51, when Covington split two free throws with 13:34 to play. On the next possession, Dylen Stezekorn hit a three-pointer to put the home team up, 54-51, and The Citadel led the rest of the way.

That lead was not without drama, however. After trailing by as many as 10, the Keydets chopped the margin to two on a Brown three with 3:56 to play, but Matt Van Scyoc hit a triple of his own to push the margin back to five. Covington then scored on a wild layup which he shot over his head, making it a three-point game, but Harris III converted a three-point play with 2:56 left and VMI could get no closer than four the rest of the way.

The setback ends VMI’s four-game winning streak in season openers, which had tied the school record previously accomplished twice. The Keydets did make 14 three-pointers on the night, paced by Brown’s career-high seven, while The Citadel went 5 of 8 from distance in the second half to aid in its victory.

VMI basketball will return to action Sunday, facing Army in the All-Military Classic’s third-place game. Action will get underway at 2 p.m.

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