VMI gets 22 from Parham, 19 from Conway, outlasts Longwood, 84-71
Sophomore Sean Conway scored a career-high 19 points Tuesday as VMI defeated visiting Longwood 84-71 in non-conference play.
Conway, a 6’5” guard from Fairfield, Conn., hit 8-of-14 shots and netted 12 of his points after intermission. He collected five rebounds with three steals and hit a pair of three pointers from distance in addition to a traditional three-point play in a key late game situation.
VMI (2-1) led 37-36 at halftime, but didn’t pull away until 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 Keydets lead to 74-62 with 4:34 remaining, and VMI held a double-digit edge the rest of the way.
Senior guard Greg Parham scored a game-high 22 points, hitting four three-pointers and adding six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Jake Stephens posted 13 points and seven rebounds while Kamdyn Curfman had 11 points. Myles Lewis scored six and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and Louis Tang had nine points and eight rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.
Juan Munoz led the shorthanded Lancers (0-2) with 18 points and four rebounds, and Justin Hill had 15 points and six assists.
Christian Wilson added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Longwood had to play without key guards DeShaun Wade and Heru Bligen, both sidelined with injuries.
In place of those two veterans, the Lancers dug into their deep but unseasoned bench and started a pair of freshmen – Jesper Granlund and Justin Hill – for the second straight game while also calling on four other Lancers who were playing for only the second time in a Longwood uniform.
“This is our second competition,” Longwood coach Griff Aldrich said. “These feel to me a little bit more like scrimmages than actual games. At one level, I’m just happy to be playing. These are teaching points for us. You learn lessons. You want to learn them hopefully with wins, but we learned a tough lesson today.”
The stingy VMI defense held Longwood to just 6-of-26 shooting (23 percent) from three-point land, including a 2-of-13 mark (15 percent) in the game’s final 20 minutes.
“They (Longwood) were playing physical, playing tough, and I thought we had too many turnovers, but in the second half I thought we were able to get the ball to Jake Stephens and score around the block, and we did a better job of slipping screens on the offensive end,” VMI coach Dan Earl said.
“Defensively, I think we did enough, but we still have to get better in that department. Hill for them was driving it downhill, and Munoz is a very good player and we were trying to keep him in front and also keep them off the boards. Overall, a good team effort, and a bunch of guys contributed.”
The Lancers shot just 39.4 percent (26-of-66) from the floor. They did cut down on their turnovers by half from the season opener against Wake Forest, cutting that number from 24 to 12, but VMI compounded Longwood’s shooting woes with a 46-34 rebounding advantage and 21 fast-break points.
“As I told the guys, credit VMI – they just simply outcompeted us tonight,” Aldrich said. “From start to finish, they outcompeted us. That is a centerpiece to who we want to be, and we fell short. [VMI] just wanted it more, and I think you saw it throughout the game.”
VMI travels to 16th ranked Virginia Tech Thursday for a non-conference game at 8 p.m. that will air on the ACC Network.
Longwood will return to Farmville for the 2020-2021 home opener against Regent in Willett Hall on Thursday. That game will tip off at 6 p.m. and air on ESPN+.
Story by Chris Graham