Martin's 31 Not Enough Versus VMIFebruary 23, 2012
by CSU Sports Information
LEXINGTON, VA. – Kelvin Martin poured in a career-high 31 points but the Charleston Southern men’s basketball team’s comeback bid came up short in a 90-81 loss to VMI at Cameron Hall on Thursday night.
CSU (17-11, 10-7) trailed by as many as 19 at 59-40 with 13:59 remaining before staging a 30-15 run to close within 74-70 on a Saah Nimley fast break layup at the 4:14 mark. The Bucs had the basketball with a chance to make it a one-possession game one trip later but could not convert. VMI (14-14, 8-9) got an old-fashioned three-point play from Stan Okoye its next time down and hit enough at the free-throw line to seal the victory.
Keith Gabriel matched Martin point-for-point for the Keydets, as the second-leading scorer in the Big South tallied 31 markers on an efficient 9-of-14 shooting. Okoye finished with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds as VMI shot 49 percent from the floor and drained 11-of-29 attempts from beyond the arc.
“You have to give VMI credit. They are very good at home and they played better than we did tonight,” said CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh. “We played well during certain stretches of the game but overall we didn’t play well enough to win. It’s a 40-minute game and unfortunately we didn’t play 40 minutes tonight.”
For CSU, Martin added 11 rebounds for his second straight double-double and 11th of the campaign. The 6-5 senior forward nailed his final seven free-throw attempts of the contest and also established a new career benchmark with 12 made field goals on 19 tries. Nimley chipped in 15 for the Bucs and went 10-of-10 at the charity stripe but had another rough night from the floor, going 2-of-16 and 1-of-8 from downtown.
Martin and Nimley combined to record 21 of CSU’s 30 points during its rally, as the final eight unanswered points of the stretch came courtesy of six free throws and a Nimley transition bucket which came off a Jeremy Sexton steal. Sexton’s jumper cut the VMI lead to 80-74 but Ron Burks drove to the rim for a pretty right-handed scoop shot on the ensuing possession to up the advantage back to eight.
CSU scored the first basket of the game on a Martin drive and still led 4-2 at the first media timeout as both teams started out sluggish. VMI assumed control from there, though, scoring 11 straight points while holding the Bucs without a point for 6:06. Gabriel took over during one stretch later in the stanza, soaring through the lane for a left-hand jam before sticking a three from deep on the left wing for a 31-19 Keydets cushion.
Buoyed by Martin, CSU took the momentum back entering the locker room as they closed the period on a 16-6 run. Martin pumped in eight of the points during the spurt, and found Sexton leaking out ahead of the pack for the first of two straight lay-ins which made the halftime score 37-35.
Nimley hit a cutting Martin with a bounce pass for a tomahawk slam on the baseline to knot the contest at 37 to begin the second half but VMI ran off 14 straight to build another double-digit lead. Gabriel sailed home two triples over that stretch while Quinton Upshur and Nick Gore swished one each.
“We didn’t start either half with the energy and intensity that I would have liked and I think we lost the game in the first five minutes of each half,” said Radebaugh. “I was proud of the way we competed and battled back once we got down by 19 but the way we started really put us in a hole.”
CSU wraps up the regular season Saturday at Radford in a 4:30 p.m. tipoff at the Dedmon Center. The Bucs downed the Highlanders by a 83-73 count in the first meeting at the Buc Dome on Dec. 1.
"We have one game left and it's a big game because it's a chance for us to gain some momentum heading into the conference tournament," said Radebaugh. "We have played pretty well here down the stretch and we want to show up Saturday with intensity and energy."
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