VMI rolls over Liberty, 83-66
Stan Okoye had 32 points, including a career-high six three-pointers, to go along with 11 rebounds, Rodney Glasgow added a season-high 18 points and six assists in his return to the lineup and D.J. Covington chipped in with seven blocked shots, leading the VMI Keydets to a 83-66 win over the Liberty Flames Tuesday night at the Vines Center in Lynchburg.
With the win, VMI (12-16, 7-8 Big South) breaks a six-game losing streak and head coach Duggar Baucom ties the school’s all-time career wins record (116).
After seven lead changes in the first 6:51, Glasgow drilled a three-pointer with 13:09 left in the first half to give the Keydets a 17-15 lead, one they would not relinquish. Liberty (10-20, 5-10 Big South) was still within eight points with 15:36 remaining, but the Keydets promptly went on a 13-1 run to break the game open and allow Baucom to tie Bart Bellairs (1995-2005) for the most coaching wins in VMI basketball history.
On this night, Okoye got off to a strong start with two three-pointers in the first 2:40 and never looked back. His six three-pointers set a new career high, surpassing the previous best of four, which he has accomplished three times previously, and his 32 points and 11 rebounds were also significant. The 11 boards moved him into second all-time in VMI rebounding, as he passed Bill Ralph ’54, and the 32 points pushed him past Chavis Holmes ’09 into fourth in VMI scoring. Okoye also moved into sixth in Big South history by passing Holmes. Finally, Okoye passed Holmes for third on VMI’s all-time games played chart, moving into sole possession of third on that listing.
Meanwhile, Glasgow, who returned from an injury that had caused him to miss the past three games, was brilliant in his comeback. The junior not only had 18 points, but added six assists against just one turnover. His classmate, Covington, was held to just nine points and seven boards, but had seven blocks to tie for second-most in VMI history in a single-game. Covington now has three of the top five blocked shot games in Institute history, two of which have come this season.
After Glasgow’s three gave VMI the lead for good, Liberty stayed close for a time, pulling back within two on a free throw by John Caleb Sanders with 10:10 on the first half clock. The Keydets distanced themselves again moments later, going up 29-22, but Liberty came back with a 5-0 run to pull within two again, 29-27. A Joel Vander Pol layup cut the margin to two, but that would be Liberty’s final hoop for the next three-plus minutes.
VMI took advantage by ripping off an 11-2 run, capped by a Covington dunk at the 3:26 mark, and pushing its lead out to double-digits at 40-29. The teams would close the half with more back and forth action. Glasgow hit a three with 1:11 showing on the clock, making it an 11-point game again, but Liberty managed to convert two free throws late in the half to account for the halftime score, 45-36.
In the first half, the Keydets were led by Okoye’s 18-point, five three-pointer effort. In fact, VMI made nine triples in the opening half, while making just seven shots from inside the arc.
The teams opened the second half by trading baskets. In fact, the first four-plus minutes were a virtual dead heat, as after Covington dunked the ball with 15:56 to go, VMI led by 10, 57-47. Tavares Speaks answered with a basket, by 46 seconds later, Okoye drilled his lone three-pointer of the second half to stretch the lead to 11. That triple started the game-breaking 13-1 run, and Okoye wrapped that spurt as well, doing so with a basket at the 12:02 mark that put VMI up 20, 70-50.
The lead grew as high as 24, but Liberty scored 8 of the last 11 points to account for the final margin.
VMI would finish the game at 31 of 68 (45.6%) from the field and 13 of 34 (38.2%) from three-point range. The 13 three-pointers were VMI’s most since a Jan. 2 win over Shenandoah, while the Keydets also chipped in a 26-9 edge in second-chance points.
Liberty went 22 of 62 (35.5%) and was held to 4 of 19 (21.1%) from three-point range.
In addition to Okoye, Glasgow and Covington, Nick Gore chipped in six assists against just one turnover, while Joe Carr had four points, five rebounds and three assists. The Keydets held a 46-38 edge on the glass as well, and moved to 6-2 on the year when outrebounding their foes.
Liberty was led by Sanders’ 20 points, but Davon Marshall, one of the conference’s leading three-point shooters, was held to a 2 of 9, five-point night.
VMI basketball will return to action Saturday, as the Keydets have their Senior Day at Cameron Hall. The Keydets will face the Longwood Lancers, with tip time scheduled for 1 p.m. VMI will honor its three seniors – Okoye, Gore and Carr – on the court before the game.
Quotes – VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom
“I am just extremely proud of the guys for not giving up. We wrote up on the board ‘who wants it more’ and I believe we wanted it more in the first half. In the second half, we wanted it even more to put to good halves together. The guys really contributed and it’s a great feeling to get that monkey off our back.”
“It was great energy. Every time out guys were talking to each other, talking with each other, everyone was feeding off each other’s energy.”
“Stan Okoye was absolutely brilliant. He was a man possessed. He’s never shot the three like that.”
“Rodney Glasgow was awesome, and he played well with Joe Carr tonight. Rodney had 18 points and six assists, but the best thing he did was check Devon Marshall and held him to five points on nine shots.”
“Our work ethic hadn’t been any less than it had when we were winning. We just couldn’t get things going our way. I told them that VMI is a team to be feared in March. To get our first season sweep is huge, and to get another Saturday would make the best of a tough situation.”