LEXINGTON, Va. - QJ Peterson went over 2,000 career points, but the Samford Bulldogs rallied from a 13-point first half deficit and survived a wild finish to defeat the VMI Keydets, 69-67, in SoCon basketball action Saturday at Cameron Hall.
After a VMI (5-15, 2-7 SoCon) turnover with 42 seconds to go, Samford (14-8, 5-4) had the ball up by two. Wyatt Walker missed a layup, however, and the ball caromed loose to Peterson. He found an open Armani Branch from 10 feet out, but Branch misfired on a jumper that would have tied the game and the clock ran out.
In defeat, the Keydets were paced by Peterson's 21 points. He hit the 2,000-point mark with 2:51 remaining in the first half, and joined Reggie Williams, Gay Elmore, Ron Carter, Stan Okoye and Chavis Holmes as the players in program history to exceed that mark. Branch added 14 points and eight rebounds.
Demetrius Denzel-Dyson led Samford with 18 points and six rebounds.
The Keydets jumped on a cold-shooting Samford team early and sprinted out to a 24-11 lead with eight minutes left in the first half. The Bulldogs chipped away with a 13-3 run that brought them within three, 27-24, at the 3:20 mark.
The Keydets were able to push the margin back out to five at halftime, but the start of the second half was all Samford. A 7-0 run to begin the half gave SU the lead for the first time all day, and set up a second half that featured nine lead changes over the final 17:59.
A 12-1 Samford run gave the Bulldogs control of the game momentarily, and a 53-43 lead with 11:37 left. Denzel-Dyson had seven points in the run, but the Keydets got the lead within single digits for good with 9:32 to go and whittled it down from there.
The home team was within a field goal four different times over the final 8:24, and had two possessions in the final 42 seconds with a chance to tie or take the lead, but could not do so as SU held on.
It was a tale of two halves that helped tell the story of the game, as Samford was held to a 9 for 33 clip from the field (27.3%) in the first half before rebounding in the second half to go 17 for 33 (51.5%). For the game, the Bulldogs finished 26 of 66 (39.4%) overall, 8 of 22 (36.4%) from three-point range and 9 of 15 from the free throw line (60%).
VMI went 26 of 60 (43.3%) overall and 8 of 26 (30.8%) from three-point range, but struggled to a 7 of 13 day (53.8%) at the charity stripe.
VMI basketball will return to action Feb. 2, when the Keydets take on the ETSU Bucs at Cameron Hall. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Quotes - VMI Head Coach Dan Earl
"I thought we battled throughout for the most part. Unfortunately, in the second half, we got into trading baskets a little too much. We were making some shots, but then they would come down and respond. You have to make shots and the get stops. I didn't we got enough stops and gave up some offensive rebounds which was tough."
"We got off to a bad start in the second half and didn't look as energetic for whatever reason. We had some turnovers and had to call timeout and then got our legs under us. In this game of college basketball, you can't have those dry spells."
"What I told our guys is it's not about one play or the final play. We'll continue to grow from it and I feel confident we will."