The combined point total of 211 points set a new Koessler Athletic Center scoring record, and VMI’s 111-point effort also set a new scoring record for an opposing team in the Koessler, a record that was previously held by Saint Peter’s at 103. The Griffs had four players score in double figures in the loss, led by senior Chris Perez, who scored a season-high 30 points in his final collegiate game. Fellow senior Billy Baron was good for 24 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the loss. Baron finishes his career as a Griff with 1,405 career points, which is 11th in school history and his 351 career assists at Canisius ranks ninth in the program’s history. Redshirt sophomore Dominique Raney scored a career-high 20 points in the loss for Canisius, which ended the night shooting 51.4 percent from the field, 45.8 percent from 3-point land and 712.4 percent from the free-throw line.
“We knew coming in that VMI was a really good team,” Canisius head coach Jim Baron said. “They jumped us at the start of the game. We fell behind and it took us some time to get our legs under us. Once we were able to score a bit and change defenses on them, we slowed them down, but they just kept coming at us. Give them credit, we worked to get back in the game and then we got into some foul trouble and they did a great job at the line.”
VMI, the nation’s top-scoring team, scored the game’s first 15 points and held a 15-2 lead just 4:09 into the contest. Covington scored eight of VMI’s first 15 points before Canisius senior Chris Manhertz put the Blue and Gold on the scoreboard with 15:51 left in the half with a jumper from the top of the key. A 3-pointer by Glasgow with 4:49 left before the half made the score 51-32 in favor of the Keydets and VMI went into the halftime intermission with a 15-point cushion at 59-45 after it shot 53.7 percent from the field, 41.2 percent from 3-point land and 88.9 percent from the free-throw line in the game’s first 20 minutes. The 59 points scored in a half by VMI set a new Koessler Athletic Center record for points in a 20-minute span by a visiting team, besting the previous record of 58, which was set by Loyola (Md.) Jan. 12, 2006.
The Griffs came out of the locker room at halftime and scored the first eight points of the second half in 1:50 to make the score 59-53 in favor of VMI. Senior Jordan Heath knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key and moments later, Baron hit a triple from the right wing. Heath followed with a layup on the team’s next trip down the floor to force VMI to take a 30-second timeout. Out of that timeout, VMI answered Canisius with a 9-2 run over the game’s next 2:36 which made the score 68-55 with 15:03 left on the game clock. The Blue and Gold trailed by nine at 74-65 with 12:50 left and made a run to get within two points at 76-74, a run that was kick-started by a 3-pointer from Raney with 12:16 on the clock. But VMI answered again, outscoring Canisius 7-0 in the next 45 second to push its lead back to nine at 83-74 with 9:08 left in regulation time. The Griffs would only be able to trim the VMI margin to eight points in the final 8:00 of the contest, as the Keydets closed out the game by going 30-for-34 from the charity stripe, with Covington making good on 13 of his 14 free-throw attempts for the game.
Freshman guard QJ Peterson scored 28 points for VMI in the win to go with eight rebounds and Tim Marshall came off the bench to post 10 points for VMI, which reach the century mark on the scoreboard for the ninth time this season. VMI ended up shooting 50 percent from the field in the win and the Keydets ended the night holding a 42-36 lead on the glass and a 29-14 advantage in second-chance points.
Jordan Heath had 15 points, eight boards and two blocks in his final collegiate game, while Manhertz tallied nine points, three rebounds and two blocks before fouling out of his last college game with 4:30 left to play. Redshirt freshman Phil Valenti had seven boards in the loss. Canisius was without the services of freshman Zach Lewis for most of the game after the 2013-14 MAAC All-Rookie Team selection injured his ankle on an offensive breakaway early in the first half.Game Notes: This was the first meeting between Canisius and VMI in men’s basketball… This was the program’s 11th postseason appearance, and the team is now 2-2 all-time in the CIT… The 211-total points bested the previous KAC scoring record by 14 points – prior to Tuesday the combined Koessler Athletic Center scoring record was 197, set Dec. 3, 1979 when the Griffs beat Mercyhurst 113-84… The 111 points allowed are the most for Canisius since the team gave up 113 in an overtime loss at Niagara Feb. 16, 2005… Canisius reached 100 points on the scoreboard in a regulation game for the first time since Feb. 28, 1989 when the team beat Elmira 105-74… The 11 3-pointers for the team in the loss is a new program postseason record… Baron is just the fourth played in school history to score more than 1,400 career points while dishing out more than 350 career assists… Baron’s 180 assists this season ties him for fourth on the school’s single-season assist list with former Griff Javone “Bam” Moore, who also had 180 assists during the 1996-97 season… Manhertz ends his career ranked fourth all-time in career rebounds with 789 career boards… The Bronx, N.Y., native played in career game No. 116 on Tuesday… Perez played in his 125th career college basketball game on Tuesday and the CIT was the first postseason game in his career. Jordan Heath’s two blocked shots gives him 125 for his career as a Griff, which ranks eighth in school history… Covington’s 37 points is tied for the third highest single-game scoring effort by one player in CIT history.