Athletics

Keydet Hoops Open Strong

The Keydets handily won their first contest on the hardwoord versus St. Andrews, 90-63. Greg Parham ’21 (above) was the leading scorer in the next contest, with 21 class-year matching points in a loss to Penn State.—Craig Horst photo courtesy VMI Keydets.

The VMI men’s basketball team opened its 2020-21 season in impressive fashion Nov. 25, posting a 90-63 victory over visiting St. Andrews University (North Carolina) from Cameron Hall.

St. Andrews opened the game strong, scoring the first five points and later taking an 11-6 lead behind two three pointers from Isaac Clay. The Keydets quickly took control with a 13-0 run, fueled by a pair of treys from sophomore Kamdyn Curfman ’23. VMI led 38-26 with 5:33 left in the half and closed out the first frame on a 14-2 surge to hold a 52-28 edge at intermission.

The Keydets netted the first 10 points of the second half and never looked back. VMI had six players in double figures as the Keydets won their fifth-straight season opener in Cameron Hall. Senior guard Ta’Vonne Bond ’21 scored a career and game-high 15 points for VMI, hitting 6-of-7 from the field. Myles Lewis ’21 and Greg Parham ’21 each posted 13 points, Curfman contributed 11 while Louis Tang ’23 and Trey Bonham ’24 added 10 each. The Keydets handed out 23 assists, just one shy of matching their season high from last year (Nov. 17, 2019 versus UC Davis in double OT).

VMI nailed 13 three pointers, three each from Curfman, Parham, and Bond. The Keydets forced 24 Knight turnovers, with Jake Stephens ’22 and Bonham each recording three steals. Travis Thompson Jr. paced St. Andrews with a team-best 14 points, while Clay added 11. Xzavier McFadden posted eight points and a game-high six rebounds.

“I thought overall we did a good job. Early in they had some guys that made shots and we weren’t dialed in and playing their tendencies as we should have been. Once we locked in and played their tendencies I thought we did a good job,” said Dan Earl, head coach. “We moved the basketball really well and played unselfishly and defensively did a pretty good job communicating up until the last part of the game and we’ll get better and that but good to get our first game under our belt.”

The hoopsters’ next contest found them on the road in Happy Valley, up against Earl’s alma mater—Penn State. The Keydets ended the first half down by only two (37-35), but were unable to hold on through the second half, ultimately falling to the Nittany Lions 86-65.

The Keydets beat Longwood Dec. 1, 84-71. Sean Conway ’23 had a banner night, scoring a career-high 19 points. The Keydets led by one at the halftime buzzer, and pulled away for the win midway through the second half.  An 11-4 run turned a 55-53 edge into a nine-point lead with 9:33 on the game clock. A 6-0 surge five minutes later boosted the Keydet lead to 74-62 with 4:34 remaining and VMI held a double-digit edge the rest of the way.

Led by Lewis’ double-double, the Keydets made the Hokies work for their 64-57 win in Blacksburg Dec. 3. Lewis garnered a team-high 13 points and logged a season-high 12 rebounds to help VMI to the near upset as the Keydets led with under 10 minutes to play. Down 30-23 at the half, VMI roared back early in the second half but eventually lost grip of momentum as the Hokies pulled away for the win.

The Dec. 7 home game against Regent was canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the opponent. VMI added a non-conference game Dec. 8 against Greensboro College in Cameron Hall, where the Keydets made it look easy with a 100-65 win. The scheduled SoCon opener versus Mercer Dec. 10 was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Both schools are working to reschedule the contest.

Against Hampton University Dec. 13, five Keydets scored in double figures to top the Pirates 79-64 in Cameron Hall. Lewis recorded his third-straight double-double for VMI with 16 points and 11 rebounds to go with three steals. It was his fourth-straight double-digit rebounding performance. Stephens joined Lewis with a double-double of 11 points and a career-best 12 rebounds and added four assists, four blocked shots, and two steals. Stephens now has two career double-doubles and the four blocks tie a career high.

Curfman nailed five three-pointers for a team-high 17 points, and Parham had 15 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Bonham contributed 12 second-half points, five rebounds, and two steals and Conway had eight points and eight rebounds. Curfman tied his season-best point total and has drilled five three-pointers five times in his career.

For more game recaps, current schedule, and results, click here.

This information was compiled from articles at vmikeydets.com.