The most memorable Big South game of the year came last month when VMI won at Gardner-Webb in a quadruple overtime thriller that featured thee buzzer beaters from the Keydets. Gardner-Webb came into tonight's quarterfinal match up looking for revenge from that 108-104 loss and riding some momentum after defeating Longwood in the opening round on Wednesday.
We certainly expected another offensive battle tonight in the HTC Center, but it was actually VMI's defense that impressed in the first half as the Keydets held a 39-28 lead. Duggar Baucom's squad forced nine turnovers and out-rebounded the Bulldogs in the first half. Gardner-Webb also didn't have an answer for D.J. Covington who had 15 points and 5 rebounds in opening stanza alone.
VMI would expand their lead to nearly 20 early in the second half but two incidents would breath life into Gardner-Webb. First D.J. Covington picked up his fourth foul with just over a 11 minutes left and then Jordan Weethee picked up a technical foul about a minute later to cut VMI's lead 60-49. A quick 8-1 run by the Keydets mitigated any momentum though.
Gardner-Webb looked dead in the water as the VMI lead crept back up towards 20, but three straight three pointers from Tyler Strange got the game to 81-73 with about 2:30 to play. The threes were much needed after the Bulldogs started the game 0-for-9 beyond the arc.
Strange's efforts were too little too late as VMI eventually grabbed a 90-77 win. The victory sets up semifinal match up against the one seed from the South Division Coastal Carolina, a team VMI lost to in Lexington 83-78 last month.
D.J. Covington finished the game with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Rodney Glasgow also added 20 points and freshman Q.J. Peterson posted 19 points. Jerome Hill lead Gardner-Webb with 22 points.
Gardner-Webb will now head home hoping for an invite from the CIT or CBI.