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VMI pushes Wake Forest to the brink in 77-70 loss in Winston-Salem

VMI AthleticsVMI had a 13-point halftime lead at Wake Forest, still had a lead with three minutes to go, but the Demon Deacons rallied late to escape with a 77-70 win on Tuesday.

The Keydets (7-5) never trailed in the first half and kept a double-digit lead for much of the second, but began to falter after the under-eight media timeout, as the VMI finished 1-for-13 from the field over the final minutes and had zero baskets in the last 2:24.

Wake Forest (10-1, 1-0 ACC) finished strong and converted 5-of-7 attempts over the final few minutes and went-18-for-21 from the free-throw line in the second half to overcome the deficit.

“I’m really proud of the guys for fighting, and to be honest with you, it’s hard not to be upset,” VMI coach Dan Earl said. “We’re trying to win that game, obviously, but when I addressed the team in the locker room afterward they expected to win and they are disappointed, which is a much better vibe than coming in the locker room and guys being happy that we were close against an ACC opponent. It hurts, to be honest.

“We didn’t make shots down the stretch – we were like one for our last nine from three-point range. We did not keep them off the line and there were some hustle plays where you have to grab 50-50 balls if you want to beat an ACC opponent,” Earl said.

Following a Kamdyn Curfman layup with 7:47 to play to put VMI up, 65-57, the Keydets went scoreless for over five minutes and went 0-for-10 from the field for the span while Wake Forest caught fire and went on an 11-0 run to earn back the lead, 68-65, with 2:24 to play.

Jake Stephens tied it back up at 68 apiece, but that would be VMI’s final bucket of the game.

Wake’s Isaiah Mucius responded with a three to give the Demon Deacons the final lead, and Aondes Williams increased the advantage to 73-68 with 1:30 to play.

Curfman finished the game with 24 points and tied his career high with six threes during the contest as he went 9-for-17 from the field. Stephens earned a second consecutive double-double – the ninth of his VMI career – by finishing with 12 points to go with 10 rebounds.

Freshman Honor Huff also ended up with double digits by pouring in 13 points on the night to lead the VMI bench, which outscored the Demon Deacon bench by an 18-12 count.

Williams earned a career-high 36 points, including 12-for-13 from the charity stripe, to lead Wake Forest to the win. Cameron Hildreth and Mucius also came away with double-digit scoring with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

VMI will take the rest of the week off from competition during Finals Week and prepare for a matchup with Hampton next Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 4 p.m. in Hampton.

augusta free press
augusta free press