Athletics

VMI Hoops 2-1 on the Season

Louis Tang ’23 had six points, five rebounds, and three assists in the Nov. 16 win over Keystone College.—The Sports Photo Guy photo courtesy VMI Keydets.

Three games into the season, the Keydets are 2-1 on the hardwood and undefeated at home. They started with a 111-55 win over Carlow University in the Nov. 9 home opener. Three days later, Dan Earl’s “guys” dropped a close match to Presbyterian 73-72 in overtime in their first away competition. The third contest saw the team cruise to a 97-35 win over Keystone College in Cameron Hall.

The Keydets take on Marist this weekend, Nov. 20, in New York. Before beginning conference play Dec. 29, the team will travel to New Orleans and to the West Coast, along with home and East Coast contests. For schedules and updates, go to vmikeydets.com. 

VMI versus Keystone College, W, 97-35, Nov. 16
The VMI men’s basketball team opened a big early lead Nov. 16 over visiting Keystone College (Pennsylvania) and never looked back in a 97-35 nonconference victory from Cameron Hall.

The Keydets took advantage of a balanced scoring attack, with 11 players getting on the scoreboard and nine posting six or more points. Guard Kamdyn Curfman ’23 drilled four three-pointers in the first seven minutes of play, including three in a two-minute span, as VMI opened a 25-7 edge. The Keydets led 53-14 at intermission.

Curfman finished with five treys and tied for a game-high 17 points in just 14 minutes on the court. Forward Connor Arnold ’22 nailed five three-pointers and also finished with 17 points to go along with five rebounds. Cooper Sisco ’25 scored 10 points, and Tanner Mans ’24 compiled nine points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Trey Bonham ’24 had nine points and four assists, Brennan Watkins ’25 posted nine points, six rebounds, and three assists, and Jake Stephens ’22 had eight points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots. Lewis Rowe ’25 totaled six points and seven boards, and Louis Tang ’23 had six points, five rebounds, and three assists.

VMI had 26 assists on 38 made baskets and shot 51% (38-75) for the game, including a 43% (18-42) mark from three-point range.

Only 12 fouls were whistled in the entire 40 minutes, with just seven free throws taken.

The contest was an exhibition for the Giants, who remain at 2-3 on the year. Jack Anderson scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the second half, and Shane Rosencrans had five points.

Quotes from Dan Earl, head coach:
“It was good to get some guys some game experience. Both the young guys in particular, and it was nice to get Louis Tang back and see him running around there like that. He’s worked extremely hard, and super proud of him. He had a hiccup or two (tonight) but to see him back out there—he’s got to get his wind back—but it was nice to see him out there.

“Connor Arnold, I thought played really well and obviously made shots and took good shots. He also played well at Presbyterian last Friday. He didn’t play a ton of minutes that night, but he went into the game and positively affected the game.

“We were able to be pretty effective in the first half and got up on them early, and it’s sometimes tough to figure out when to shoot and when to not shoot when it’s like that, but for the most part, I thought we handled it well, shared the ball, and had a bunch of assists. Twenty-six assists and five turnovers—took care of the ball. It is nice to see the ball spraying around and smiles on the guys’ faces.”

VMI versus Presbyterian, L, 73-72, Nov. 12
Playing its first road game of the season, the VMI basketball team fell in heartbreaking fashion to Presbyterian University by a 73-72 score in overtime Nov. 12 at the Templeton Center in Clinton, South Carolina.

With VMI ahead 63-59 with three minutes left in regulation, Presbyterian’s Rayshon Harrison hit two big jumpers in the final moments to knot the score at 63-all to force the extra period. His first basket in the sequence came following two offensive rebounds with two minutes left, then followed with another jumper with 1:42 on the clock.

Both teams’ final two possessions of regulation resulted in turnovers and missed jump shot opportunities to go to overtime tied at 63 apiece.

In the extra time, VMI’s Sean Conway ’23 converted a pair of free throws, and Curfman hit a big three to put VMI up, 68-64, early on. Harrison responded with his own set of free throws and a jumper to pull the Blue Hose on top, 69-68, with 2:44 to play.

After a pair of free throws by VMI’s Bonham, Harrison again scored to put Presbyterian up, 71-70, with 1:19 to go. VMI’s Stephens was then fouled and converted his free throws to put VMI on top, 72-71, with 48 seconds left.

On Presbyterian’s final possession, the Blue Hose picked up two crucial offensive boards to keep the drive alive before Winston Hill was fouled with six seconds remaining. He converted both to put the Blue Hose on top for good, 73-72, for the game’s final score.

Bonham’s three-point attempt at the buzzer was blocked by Harrison to secure the win for the Blue Hose.

Stephens finished the game with 23 points to lead the Keydets and earned a career-high six blocks for VMI. Curfman finished with 18 points on the night on 6-14 shooting, while Conway added 10 points for VMI.

Harrison finished the contest with a game-high 32 points by going 13-23 from the field, including four treys. Hill ended up with 22 points and 12 boards—six offensive—in a double-double effort for the evening. Presbyterian’s 20 offensive rebounds on the night resulted in 15 second-chance points for the Blue Hose for the ultimate difference in the outcome.

Quotes from Dan Earl, head coach:
“It’s hard to overcome 20 offensive rebounds, and 14 turnovers was tough for us as well. I did think that we battled and got better in the second half. In the first half, we were going east to west, and we looked out of sync, and the pressure was bothering us, but we were much better offensively in the second half.

“It comes down to being a little tougher and executing better, but then also corralling a big rebound after playing good defense—games can come down to that one simple play.

“Rayshon Harrison hit some really big shots. He’s certainly a talented player and did it over and over. He continued to make tough shots.

“While I’m disappointed and the guys are disappointed, it’s a long year. We were on the wrong side tonight, but we can’t hang our head too long. I’m confident our guys will stick together and learn from it.”

VMI versus Carlow, W, 111-55, Nov. 9
The VMI men’s basketball team hit 22 three-pointers Nov. 9 to cruise to a 111-55 victory over Carlow University in the Keydets’ season opener in Cameron Hall in nonconference play. The 22 treys were just two short of the school record of 24, set in the 2008-09 campaign against Southern Virginia.

The visiting Celtics trailed just 13-11 after the first six minutes of play, but a 37-7 Keydet run made the score 50-18 late in the first half. The Keydets led 58-23 at intermission and scored 25 of the first 28 points after halftime to forge an 83-26 advantage. VMI drained 22-of-40 shots from three-point distance (55%).

VMI had seven players reach double figures in scoring while 11 got on the scoreboard. Center Stephens recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in just 14 minutes on the floor, hitting 4-of-5 from deep. Mans had 14 points and seven rebounds, while Conway and Watkins each had 12 points and combined for seven three-pointers. Curfman nailed three threes and ended with 13 points, and Sisco came off the bench for 16 points and was a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the three-point arc. Bonham had 10 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three steals, while Honor Huff ’25 posted nine points and four assists. Rowe contributed five points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, and Sam Wolfe ’23 had seven points and five rebounds.

Marcus Millen paced Carlow (1-2) with 17 points and six rebounds. Jaden Willis had 10 points, and Alex Gangji scored six.

Quotes from Dan Earl, head coach:
“We certainly made some shots tonight, which was good to see. We came out a little tentative, but then the ball started to go in, and we shared the ball really well. With 31 assists on 40 made field goals—the ball was moving well and popping. I thought we played VMI basketball tonight.

“We’re not bashful or shy about shooting the three if we have the opportunity, but we also have to have the presence down low to be able to drive by guys as well. We were able to move the ball and get some open looks. Different people got involved, and the ball went in for us.”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published at vmikeydets.com.