Charleston Southern ran into one of the hottest teams in the Big South Conference on Saturday and VMI put on another quality performance in defeating the Buccaneers, 92-84.
VMI, the top scoring team in the Big South, shot 48.3 percent from the field, including an 11 of 22 effort from beyond the arc in winning its fourth straight league game. VMI led the final 30 minutes of Saturday's contest at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va.
The loss dropped CSU to 10-13 overall and 4-6 in the Big South Conference. The Keydets improved to 14-9 and 7-3 in league play, maintaining the top spot in the North Division standings.
Senior forward D.J. Covington led all scorers, pacing five Keydets in double figures with 26 points and 12 rebounds. QJ Peterson added 22 points and Rodney Glasgow had 18 points and seven assists.
CSU junior point guard Saah Nimley returned to action after missing the last two games and led CSU with 17 points. Sophomore forward Malcolm Bernard had his best game as a collegian, scoring 16 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.
Junior forward Paul Gombwer had 10 points and 11 boards as CSU pulled down a season-high 25 offensive rebounds in the loss. Junior forward Cedrick Bown tallied 13 points for CSU, while junior guard Arlon Harper finished with 10 points.
"VMI played extremely well," said CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. "They have developed a real good balance offensively with Covington inside and with three or four perimeter guys who can shoot.
"I thought we did some good things. I thought we played very hard. We showed some glimpses of the team that we were a few weeks ago and I am very encouraged. As we continue to get healthy again, I think we're going to see real solid improvement in our basketball team."
Charleston Southern's largest lead in the game came midway through the first half when Bernard's 3-pointer gave the Bucs a 26-22 lead. The Keydets, however, got hot from the field and raced out to a 23-5 run to grab a 45-31 lead with 4:35 to play in the half. VMI led, 50-38, at the break.
VMI opened up its largest lead with 12:25 to play in the contest after Brian Brown's two free throws gave the Keydets a 65-48 lead. Brown finished the game with 14 points.
Charleston Southern was unable to get the margin into single digits until the final minute of the game. The Buccaneers shot 34.1 percent from the field, making only 7 of 22 attempts from 3-point range.
Charleston Southern will stay on the road for a Thursday night game at High Point.
"The key for us is to not get down. We're going to be fine," said Radebaugh. "I would not write our obituary just yet. We have three weeks left in the regular season and the conference tournament. We're not done."
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