VMI’s Bubba Parham Nets 33 in 91-83 win over WCU
LEXINGTON, Va. – Sophomore guard Bubba Parham scored 33 points Saturday afternoon to lead VMI to a 91-83 victory over visiting Western Carolina University in Southern Conference play.
The game was tight the entire way - with 18 lead changes. VMI held a 47-44 lead at intermission, but the Catamounts forged a 75-73 advantage after a three-pointer by Kameron Gibson at the 5:21 mark. The Keydets went on an 8-0 run, fueled by two three-point plays from freshman center Jake Stephens, one from beyond the arc and the second on a traditional layup and free throw. Western Carolina trimmed the lead to just two (82-80) with under two minutes to play, but a Parham layup made it a four-point game and VMI iced the contest by sinking seven of eight free throws.
Parham, the conference’s leading scorer, now has five games of 30 points or more this year. He made four three-pointers and handed out four assists. Sarju Patel finished with 17 points - 13 in the second half, with four rebounds. Stephens contributed 16 points and two blocked shots, while Myles Lewis netted 13 points. Garrett Gilkeson posted five points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals on the afternoon.
VMI’s 18 assists is the second-highest total this season against a Division I foe, and their six turnovers ties its season-low on the year. The Keydets are now 6-0 when ahead with five minutes to play.
Western Carolina (5-16/2-6 SoCon) had three players reach the 20-point mark: Onno Steger (27), Matt Halvorsen (23) and Gibson (20). Steger grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and had four assists.
The Keydets (7-12/1-6 SoCon) will be on the road for the next three games, starting Thursday at Mercer University (Ga.) at 7:30 p.m.
Quotes from head coach Dan Earl:
"We needed a win. I give a ton of credit to our guys. They have been continuing to come in with a great attitude and continued to practice getting better. We don't have a whole lot of wins to show for it in conference play, but the guys have been sticking together through all the injuries and everything."
"I thought Western Carolina had a very good game plan, but we made plays when we needed to make plays."
"We had a little lull and when things went south before, we kind of dug a deeper hole for ourselves. Today we did a tremendous job of fighting back."
"I thought we were pushing the ball faster this game. Ta'Vonne Bond pushed the ball and Miles Lewis got out in transition. The ability to respond to adversity really showed up today. I thought we did a good job sharing the ball and with about three minutes left, we had some key defensive plays."
"I'm sure Bubba Parham is the first guy on the scouting report and he does and really good job of trying to be aggressive, but yet minding other guys as well. He can certainly score the ball and I can't say enough about his offense and affecting the game with his defense as well."