GAME NOTES: Making their first postseason appearance in nearly four decades, the Keydets of VMI head to New York where they will clash with the Canisius Golden Griffins in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
For the Keydets, members of the Big South Conference, this is the program's first appearance in a postseason contest since losing to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament back in 1977. The squad finished the 2013-14 regular season with a record of 18-11 before topping Gardner-Webb (90-77) in the Big South Tournament back on March 7. However, the team's pursuit of an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament came to an end a day later with a 66-62 setback versus Coastal Carolina.
Meanwhile, the Golden Griffins hail from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference where they posted a 71-65 win against Siena in the quarterfinals of that event on March 8, but then stumbled against top-seeded Iona a day later, 75-72. In no rush to have the season come to a close altogether, Canisius has an overall record of 21-12.
Canisius appeared in this tournament just last year, defeating Elon in the first round by a score of 69-62, followed by a second-round victory versus Youngstown State in overtime, 84-82. Unfortunately, the run came to an end in the quarterfinals as the Griffs fell short against Evansville, 84-83.
This marks the first time in the 110-year history of Canisius basketball that the program has hosted postseason games in consecutive years.
Following this first-ever meeting, the winner will advance to the second round to face an opponent to be determined.
For the last six games, D.J. Covington has been the leading scorer for the Keydets, turning the trick nine times in the last 10 outings, yet he is second on the overall scoring list for the season with his 18.7 ppg. Unlike most of his teammates, Covington is far more comfortable attacking in the paint, which explains his 58.1 percent accuracy for the floor and his team-best 9.4 rpg. Covington is also tops on the unit with 96 blocked shots as VMI and opponents race up and down the floor.
Scoring 87.7 ppg, the highest average in the nation, the Keydets take their cue mostly from QJ Peterson who is putting up 19.4 ppg, thanks to his 70 3- pointers. Rodney Glasgow (18.4 ppg) actually has five more triples on his stat line for a program that has let fly with a staggering 873 3-pointers, an average of 28.2 triples per contest, making good on 32.2 percent of those tries.
No stranger to attacking from the perimeter, Canisius guard Billy Baron is actually one of the best in the business in that department. Named the MAAC Player of the Year, Baron was one of the nation's top scorers with 24.2 ppg, thanks to his 103-of-243 (.424) shooting beyond the arc over the course of his 33 starts. But in addition to being a deadly threat on the outside, Baron also forced the action into the paint, resulting in 245 trips to the free-throw line where he knocked down 88.2 percent of his chances. If all that were not enough, Baron also handed out a team-best 172 assists, many of those going to Chris Perez (12.4 ppg) and Jordan Heath (10.3 ppg) as they helped push the program to 77.6 ppg.
As much as the Keydets likes to race up and down the floor, they will actually have to play defense this time around as Baron and the other Griffs put them to the test.
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