VMI 62, Army 55
WEST POINT, N.Y. VMI outscored Army 37-16 during the final 12 minutes and 43 seconds to overcome a 14-point deficit and take a 62-55 win over the Black Knights on Sunday afternoon at Christl Arena. Army dropped to 3-8 on the season, while VMI claimed its fifth straight victory to improve to 9-2.
The Black Knights led by three at halftime and stretched their lead to 39-25 after a basket by senior C Doug Williams, but VMI countered with a 21-4 run, all on three-pointers, to take a 46-43 lead with 7:30 to go. Keith Gabriel sparked the run with four of VMI’s seven triples. Army got within one point on three occasions, but the Keydets closed the contest on a 9-3 run to set the final margin.
The Keydets entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation, averaging 103.0 points per game, but for the second straight season, the Army defense kept them below the 70-point mark.
Junior F Cleveland Richard paced the Army offense with a career-high 19 points, including a pair of three-pointers. Junior G Josh Miller chipped in 10 points, five rebounds and six assists. Williams tallied seven points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. Senior F John Moonshower scored eight points, including a pair of three-pointers during the Black Knights’ second-half run that established a double-digit lead.
VMI placed four players in double figures led by Austin Kenon’s 19 points. Kenon hit six of the Keydets 13 triples. Gabriel finished with 16 points, including five three-pointers, while Willie Bell and Chavis Holmes each scored 10. Ron Burks snared a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Army defense limited VMI’s twin brother-duo of Chavis and Travis Holmes to a combined 17 points. The duo entered the contest as the Keydets’ leading scorers at more than 20 points per game each.
Neither team shot well in the first half. Army hit just 28.1 percent (9-32) in the first 20 minutes, but the Keydets hit at an 18.2 percent (4-22) clip, including just three three-pointers in 16 attempts. In the second half, VMI stroked 14 of 27 shots (.519), including 10 of 19 (.526) from long range.
Army held a 22-8 advantage in the paint, but VMI converted 20 Black Knight turnovers into 25 points. It was the second straight game that Army reached the 20-turnover mark. The Keydets also held a 38-34 edge on the glass.
VMI got off to a quick start, scoring the first six points of the game. Williams got Army on the board with 16:06 to go, and the basket jumpstarted a 12-0 run that put the Black Knights up six with 11:31 left in the half. VMI countered with a 8-2 run of its own to knot the score at 14-14 with 8:07 left. Army continued the game of runs with a 7-0 spurt, capped by a fastbreak layup by junior G Tyrell Thompson that put the Black Knights ahead 21-14 with 3:17 left in the first half. The Keydets scored the next five points before a jumper by Richard re-established a four-point Army advantage with 46 seconds left to play. Kenon hit one of two foul shots with 33 seconds left to cut the deficit to 23-20 which is where the score stood at intermission.
Moonshower came out of the locker room on fire, stroking back-to-back three-pointers to put the Black Knights up 29-20 with 18:37 left in the second half. Kenon came back with a three of his own, but the Black Knights scored 10 of the next 12 points to take a 39-25 lead. Bell’s three-pointer with 12:43 to go cut the lead to 11 and started the Keydets’ game-winning run.
The Black Knights held VMI to more than 40 points below its season scoring average, and have now held their opponents to 62 points or less in their last five outings.
Army takes a break for the holidays before resuming action on Tuesday, Dec. 30 at Florida Gulf Coast.
Game Notes: For the first time since the start of last season, Army has used the same starting lineup for four games in a row ... Sophomore G Mitch McDonald made his first appearance, playing four minutes in the second half. McDonald did not dress for the first eight games of the season, but has been in uniform since the injury to freshman G Jesse Steele ... Cleveland Richard’s 19-point performance is the highest by an Army player this season. Freshman G Julian Simmons scored 18 at Brown. Richard has now scored in double figures a team-high seven times this season and in 12 of his last 18 games ... Josh Miller has reached double figures in three straight games ... The Black Knights have held the lead or been within one possession of the lead in eight of the last nine games, but have gone just 2-7 in that span ... Army is now 5-23 in the last 28 games in which it has been outrebounded ... The game marked only the fifth loss in the last 17 games in which Army has led at halftime ... The Black Knights are now 13-23 during the Jim Crews Era when turning the ball over at least 20 times ... The loss snapped a two-game winning streak against the Keydets ... The Black Knights have not won back-to-back games this season.