Gardner-Webb recovers, holds off VMI, 88-77

VMI AthleticsVMI rallied from an early 18-point deficit to actually take the lead in the second half, but Gardner-Webb recovered, then held on for an 88-77 win on Friday.

The Keydets (5-3) started the game off cold, missing their first seven three-point attempts and shooting 37 percent overall (10-of-27) in the first half. VMI finished the opening stanza shooting 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) from beyond the arc as the Bulldogs opened with a commanding lead.

VMI battled back and trimmed the disadvantage to 11 going into the half down, 40-29. The Keydets rallied and twice pulled ahead of Gardner-Webb in the second half but could not sustain the momentum.

“Give Gardner-Webb a lot of credit,” VMI head coach Dan Earl said. “They came out with a ton of fire and were hitting shots early. We dug ourselves too big of a hole. I was proud of our response. Our guys really fought back in the second half and we had a lot of energy. And then they stopped running their offense and got it down low and played physical with us, so we have to guard better one-on-one against that physicality.

“We did some good things, but dug ourselves too big of a hole and any time you let them shoot the percentage they did with over 40 percent from three and over 50 percent from two, we just have to be better on the defensive end.”

Junior Jake Stephens found his rhythm en route to a career-high 26 points in the contest, while teammate Kamdyn Curfman scored five three-pointers for the fifth time this season.

Stephens went 7-of-15 from the field, including two treys, and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe. He nearly earned his second career double-double with his 26 points and nine rebounds. The junior also had three assists and two blocks in the effort.

Curfman finished with 16 points, with all of his five buckets coming from three-point range.

Senior Greg Parham also finished in double figures with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with six assists.

The Bulldogs (1-3) were led by Jaheam Cornwall, who finished with 21 points while Jacob Falko scored 16. Ludovic Dufeal contributed 11 points and Lance Terry and Jamaine Mann both ended up with 10 apiece.

VMI returns to action Monday afternoon with a 1 p.m. tip at George Mason at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax.


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