GREENVILLE. S.C. – A fast start in the first half by the Furman Paladins was too much for VMI to overcome as the hosts defeated the Keydets, 89-72, in Southern Conference action Saturday afternoon at Timmons Arena.
Furman captured its 13th consecutive conference home win – a school record – and raised its overall mark to 12-8, 5-2 SoCon. VMI fell to 4-14 and 1-6 in the league.
The Keydets were led in scoring by senior guard Julian Eleby who broke out of a shooting slump and scored 21 points including six of 11 shots from 3-point range. Guard QJ Peterson added 12 points.
Furman placed four in double figures and was led by sophomore guard Andrew Brown who was a perfect six of six from 3-point range for 18 points. Senior forward Kris Acox added 18 points on eight of nine shooting and has hit 17 of 19 from the floor over his last two games.
The Keydets shot just 36% in the first half, but improved to 56.7% in the second half which included 10 of 18 beyond the arc.
The Paladins exploded from the opening tip riding the 3-point shot to build a double-digit lead quickly. Furman hit first nine of its first 11 shots from the floor and went on an 18-3 run to lead 25-8 following three consecutive treys by Brown capped at the 13:45 mark. VMI struggled from the floor early in the game missing 9 of 10 shots during during one stretch as the Paladins extended the lead to as much as 27 points when Acox converted a 3-point play with 2:03 remaining in the half. Furman led 47-24 at the break after shooting 59% from the field and 8 of 13 in 3-point range.
VMI hit five of its last seven from the floor to end the first half and carried the momentum in the second half to go 17 of 30 from the field in one of its strongest shooting second halves of the season. Eleby led the charge scoring 15 points in the second half and draining five treys, but the Keydets could not trim the deficit any closer that would be the final margin.
VMI committed just three turnovers in the second half and generated 10 assists in the second half as nine different Keydets finished with at least one assist for the game.
Furman, which won its third straight over VMI, outrebounded the Keydets, 32-26 and dominated in points in the paint, 38-18, as well as bench scoring, 48-23.
The Keydets conclude the three-game road swing at Chattanooga Wednesday night with tipoff at 7 pm.
Head Coach Dan Earl –
“We knew they were going to bring the fight to us and we had to bring the fight to them and unfortunately it took us too long to do that. When the ball is tipped, it’s “go” time and it took us too long to adjust. We just weren’t moving fast enough in the first half.”
“We took care of the ball much better in the second half. We made shots in the second half which was nice to see and a positive, but everyone is working to pull out wins. Everybody wants to do it, and it gets frustrating, but if you are looking for positives, I think we continued to fight. We didn’t give up or give in and we started to make shots.”