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Mercer rallies from big deficit, knocks off VMI, 73-62

vmi soccerMercer shot 60.7 percent in the second half to overcome a double-digit halftime deficit and defeat VMI, 73-62, in Wednesday night Southern Conference basketball action at Hawkins Arena.

Djordje Dimitrijevic scored 26 points and sank six three-pointers on the night as the Bears secured their first SoCon win of the year and moved to 7-11.

“It certainly was a game of two halves, unfortunately. We have to figure out a way to win. It’s tough, the guys are trying. We couldn’t stop the bleeding. It was a tough second half,” said VMI coach Dan Earl afterward.

VMI (5-14, 0-6) was led in scoring by freshman guard Travis Evee with 17 points and senior guard Greg Parham added 13 points for his third straight double figures scoring game.

Keydet sophomore center Jake Stephens got VMI off to a quick start hitting two early threes in helping the Keydets build as much as a 16-point lead at the 8:51 mark of the opening half.

Stephens finished with 10 first half points as VMI took a 38-27 lead into the locker room at halftime after converting 11 Mercer turnovers into 16 points and receiving 16 points scoring from Keydet reserves.

The tables turned quickly in the second half when VMI turnovers opened the door for a Mercer comeback.

VMI led 45-35 at the 15:20 mark, but then committed four turnovers in a stretch that helped the Bears score seven unanswered points and pull within 46-44 after an Ethan Stair lay-in.

After VMI’s Camdyn Curfman broke a 52-52 tie with a three-ball, the Bears commenced a crucial 13-0 run while the Keydets went into a scoring drought of over four minutes. Dimitrijevic nailed a three-pointer with eight minutes remaining to put Mercer up for good, 57-55, and the spurt grew to a 21-2 run to place the game out of reach for the visitors.

The Keydets, who turned the ball just five times in the first half, committed nine in the second half that led to 14 Mercer points. VMI was 6-of-13 from beyond the arc for 46.7 percent in the opening half, but cooled down to 3-of-13 in the second half.

“The turnovers really hurt us,” Earl said. “We were doing uncharacteristic things. It was spiraling out of control and unfortunately we weren’t able to make the plays offensively or defensively.”

VMI returns home to face The Citadel Saturday at Cameron Hall. Tip-off is 1 pm.

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