VMI storms back, defeats Citadel, 82-71
The Citadel Bulldogs took a 13-point first half lead, but the VMI Keydets stormed back behind QJ Peterson’s 25 points and went on to an 82-71 victory in the second game of the All-Military Classic Friday afternoon at Cameron Hall. The game was the season opener for both teams, and with the win, VMI advanced to the title game Saturday night at 8:30, where they will take on the two-time defending tournament champions, Air Force.
Citadel (0-1) took its largest lead, 26-13, after an Ashton Moore basket at the 9:22 mark, and still led by 10 with 5:08 left in the half. The Keydets (1-0), however, stormed back with a 14-5 run to cut the lead to one at half, and then took the lead for good with 11:01 to play on a pair of Jarid Watson free throws. Peterson then took over, scoring 12 of his 25 over the final 10 minutes to help the Keydets pull away and win their fifth season opener in the past six years.
With his prolific scoring day, Peterson notched the most points by a VMI freshman since Stan Okoye’s 26 on Feb. 25, 2010 against Charleston Southern. He finished 9 of 18 from the floor and added four steals, while Rodney Glasgow added 20 and Jordan Weethee, playing in his first game since 2011-12, had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Weethee’s day was highlighted by a thunderous dunk at the2:20 mark of the first half, a play that electrified the 3,419 fans in attendance.
In addition, the Keydets had nine blocks and 23 offensive rebounds, both setting Classic records.
The visitors, an undermanned team who only played nine players, came out fighting in the opening half. After VMI took an early 7-5 lead, Citadel went on a 21-6 march behind 11 points from White and, when Moore converted his basket at 9:22, led 26-13. The lead was still 10 at the 5:08 mark, but Jarid Watson scored to cut it to eight and start the 14-5 spurt that turned the momentum in VMI’s favor.
Although the Keydets were still down, 38-37, at half, they had gone the final 11:30 of the period without a turnover. That stretch grew to16:34 with the opening 5:04 of the second half, as the Keydets cut it to one on two occasions, doing so first at the 17:14 mark on a Glasgow jumper.
The Bulldogs stretched it back out to five with 13:33 to play, but VMI seized command with a 26-6 spurt that Glasgow capped with a triple, giving the home team a 71-56 advantage with 5:54 left. The Keydets went 4 for 5 from distance during the run, as Glasgow and Peterson hit two apiece to give the home team full control.
Citadel would get no closer than 11 the rest of the way as Peterson scored VMI’s final four points, helping him finish with 18 in the second half.
In defeat, the Bulldogs were led by freshman White, who had 21 points and nine boards, while Matt Van Scyoc added 16 and 11. One of the key stats of the game, however, saw VMI outrebound Citadel by six in the second half after being bested by nine in the first period, a 15-rebound swing.
QUOTES – VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom “For 30 minutes, I thought we weren’t really ‘us’, but I felt good being down just one at halftime. I told them during a timeout in the second half that we just needed to hit a three-pointer and a free throw and that would unlock the door – And it did.”
“What a first game for a young man like QJ Peterson, to play the way he did. Jarid Watson had a great practice, he brought it today and it was easily the best game of his college career.”
“We try to have flurries and we got a lot of them in the second half. I think guys have a little more ‘want to’ in the second half. We were about to get blown out (in the first half, down 13) and I was really proud at how guys like Jordan and Jarid starting competing. We guarded much better in the second half.”