Men's Basketball Falls in Heartbreaker to VMI 103-102
LEXINGTON, Va. – The Coastal Carolina University men’s basketball team (7-9, 1-3 Big South) dropped a heartbreaking 103-102 decision to VMI (13-2, 5-0 Big South) Jan. 10 in Lexington, Va. Senior Steven Sexton (Monticello, Ky./Wayne County) hit a jumper as time expired, but the shot was ruled a two instead of a three, giving VMI its ninth straight victory.
Coastal Carolina was down 99-93 until a three-pointer from freshman Dexter Moore (Bluefield, W. Va./Hargrave Military Academy) at 1:21 pulled the Chants to within a possession. Redshirt junior Logan Johnson (Knoxville, Tenn./South Doyle) then had a steal on Austin Kenon and a layup from classmate Joseph Harris (Lejeune, N.C./Lejeune) made it 99-98 Keydets. On VMI’s next possession, Chavis Holmes hit a jumper with 14 seconds left to push the lead back to three. Sophomore Anthony Breeze (Greenville, S.C./Greenville) then was fouled and hit two free throws to make it 101-100 VMI. Holmes was fouled and made two free throws at the Keydet end, setting up the final play. Sexton banked home a jumper, which right away was called a two. The referees went to the video replay to confirm their call, making the final 103-102.
VMI led most of the first half as both teams shot 50 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Holmes had 17 points, while Keith Gabriel added 15 for VMI, while Harris had 11 points and eight rebounds and senior Mario Sisinni (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) had 10 points. The big turn in the first half happened in a 35-second span. Coastal Carolina had cut a 10-point lead to four after a Harris jumper with 3:42 to go. VMI would then score eight points in 35 seconds, as Kenon and Holmes hit three’s and Holmes had a jumper, giving the Keydets a 48-36 lead with 3:07 left. VMI would be up by as many as 13, but a layup from redshirt freshman Jon Pack (Dallas, Ga./East Paulding) with 19 seconds left cut the deficit to eight at halftime.
VMI bumped the lead to 12 to start the second half, but the Chants went on a 17-7 run as Harris’ layup at 14:02 made it 69-67 VMI. Coastal Carolina could never take a lead as one of seven Kenon three’s at 9:47 gave the Keydets an 83-75 lead. Johnson’s layup at 6:14 cut the Keydet lead to 92-88, but five points in a row from VMI brought the Chant deficit back to nine at 5:12. Sisinni hit a big three at 3:42 and Harris had a layup at 2:39, setting up the final minute of action.
Harris was one point away from a career high, going 12-of-18 from the field and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line for 30 points. He also tied a career high in rebounds (16) and assists (6). Harris also had his seventh double-double of the season.
Sisinni had career highs in points with 20 and in assists with nine. Breeze added 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and had a career high four blocked shots. Sexton had 11 points and tied a career high with six assists. Moore had eight points and a season-high six rebounds.
Coastal Carolina shot 53.2 percent from the field and was 8-of-20 from three-point range. Coastal Carolina also performed well at the free-throw line, going 12-of-16 from the charity stripe. The Chants also outrebounded VMI 48-35 and were three assists away from a school record with 29.
Holmes had 35 points, including five three-pointers and a perfect 8-of-8 performance at the free-throw line. Kenon scored 29 points on seven three’s and Gabriel added 19. VMI had 17 three-pointers and were 20-of-27 from the free-throw line. The Keydets also forced Coastal Carolina into 17 turnovers and had 12 steals.
Coastal Carolina will head to Lynchburg, Va., to face Liberty Monday, Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.