VMI basketball loses on Senior Day

vmi_logo2Brian Brown had 17 points in his final home game, but the Samford Bulldogs turned back a VMI rally with a 9-2 run late in the second half and went on to a victory, 80-69, over the Keydets in Southern Conference men’s basketball action Saturday afternoon at Cameron Hall in Lexington, Va.

VMI opens play in the 2015 Southern Conference Basketball Championships presented by General Shale next Saturday, March 7 at 8:30 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina.  The Keydets (11-18, 7-11 SoCon) enter as the #6 seed and will take on #3 seed Mercer (17-14, 12-6).

In Saturday’s game, Samford (13-18, 6-12 SoCon) had led by as many as 14 in the first half, and still led by 12 with 11:53 to play. VMI mounted a fierce rally, posting a 12-0 run that tied the game, 52-52, with 8:58 to go. Moments later, however, Samford used a 9-2 run of its own, including two three-pointers by Tyler Hood, to go ahead by eight and VMI  got no closer than seven the rest of the way.

Christen Cunningham of Samford led all scorers with a career-high 22 points, while Hood had 21 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Brown and Eleby had 17 points apiece to pace the Keydets, but VMI had 22 turnovers in the contest, just two days after having just seven miscues in a double overtime loss to Chattanooga. VMI did outscore Samford, 40-20, in bench points on the afternoon.

There were eight ties and five lead changes early, and after Julian Eleby converted a three-point play with 8:50 left in the half, Samford (13-18, 6-12 SoCon) led 24-22. The Keydets would not score another field goal for nearly seven minutes, as Samford scored 12 of the game’s next 13 points to take a 14-point lead. The Bulldogs would lead by 12 at halftime, helped by VMI shooting just 1 for 12 from three-point range.

It was more of the same early in the second half, as Cunningham scored 10 points in the first 5:56 of the period to help the visitors maintain their 12-point edge. An Eleby three started VMI’s answer, a 12-0 run that saw the Keydets score 10 of those points in just 1:09, and Trey Chapman scored with 8:58 left to tie the game, 52-all.

Samford scored the next four points, but a Tim Marshall three made it 56-55, Bulldogs, and set the stage for the game-turning 9-2 run, fueled by Hood’s three-point shooting. The Samford forward also scored seven points in the game’s final 2:47, helping quell any chance for a Keydet rally as the Bulldogs salvaged a season split in the series between the teams.

For the game, VMI finished shooting 26 of 55 (47.3%) overall and 7 of 27 (25.9%) from three-point range. The Keydets, however, were just 10 of 20 (50%) at the foul line, where Samford went 13 of 18 (72.2%). The Bulldogs were 30 of 59 overall (50.8%) and 7 of 17 (41.2%) from three-point range.


Quotes – VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom
“We basically got what we deserved. That had more energy than us, executed better than us, shot the ball way better than us, and they deserved to win.”

“We didn’t make enough plays to win. Anything to do with effort, they did it better than us. We knew they would pressure us. Once they got into us we just kind of caved in and that’s what happened to us at the end of the first half.”

“We did make a run in the second half, but once we did, we lost our energy again. If you look, free throws are in direct correlation with energy level and focus as well as execution. They go hand in hand.”

“For two games we controlled our destiny and came up short. We hope to learn from that.”

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