VMI survives furious Campbell comeback, 84-81
D.J. Covington scored a career-high 33 points and VMI survived a furious second half comeback and defeated Campbell 84-81 Wednesday night at Cameron Hall.
The Camels (12-16, 6-7) trailed by 24 late in the first half and 45-27 at the break before having a chance to tie the game at the buzzer.
Reco McCarter’s triple cut the VMI advantage to 82-81 with 15.1 seconds left.
After two timeouts, Covington then hauled in a three-quarter-court pass against the press and dunked for a 3-point advantage. McCarter then pulled up from about 23 feet and his attempt to send the game into overtime went half-way down before rimming out.
Since losing 97-93 in overtime last month at Campbell, Big South Conference North Division leader VMI (16-10, 9-4) has won seven of its last nine games – two in overtime.
Covington finished 12-of-16 from the field and 9-of-11 from the line to eclipse his previous best outing of 31 points he scored in last year’s loss at Campbell. QJ Peterson added 19 points and Jordan Weethee scored all 10 of his in the second half for the Keydets.
Andrew Ryan led Campbell with 21 points (16 in the second half) and made 4-of-7 triples to move into 10th place on Campbell’s career three-point field goals list (110). In his first action since Jan. 4, D.J. Mason came off the bench to score 17 points on 7-of-13 from the field, grab a team-high six rebounds and block three shots. McCarter finished with 14 points, but missed 13 of the first 14 minutes of the second period after picking up his fourth foul with 19:12 to play.
Campbell shot a blistering 67.7 percent (21-31) from the floor in the second half, 54.4 percent (31-57) on the night, and knocked down 11-of-22 from 3-point range. The nation’s highest-scoring team, VMI connected on 47.8 percent (32-67) from the field, 8-of-19 from three (.421) and 12-of-20 from the line.
“We played really, really hard and really well in the second half, and I’m proud of our effort,” said Campbell head coach Kevin McGeehan. “But we’ve got to figure out how to get off to a better start. It’s been a problem lately. If we play like we did in the second half for the whole game, there’s not a team in our league we can’t beat.”
Over a 12-minute span surrounding halftime, the Camels outscored VMI 44-22 and trimmed the gap to 65-63 on Antwon Oliver’s lay-in with 10:22 to play. VMI responded with a 10-2 run and led 77-67 on Weethee’s bucket with 3:09 to play. Kyre’ Hamer hit a trey and Ryan knocked down a triple and free throw over Peterson fouled him in the act of shooting with 1:59 to go.
McCarter’s drive trimmed the gap to 79-76 with 1:16 remaining, but Brian Brown nailed a triple at the end of the shot clock with 41.1 seconds left for a six-point VMI edge. Hamer then drove to the rim to bring CU with 82-78 with 27.6 seconds remaining. Peterson missed the front end of a one-and-one to set up McCarter’s triple that cut it to one, but the Camels drew no closer.
Covington scored 19 first-half points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the line.
The Camels return home to host Liberty for Senior Day Saturday at 4 p.m.