Parham's 38 Points Help Keydets Top WCU, 83-78
Courtesy: Jason Hall Photography

CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Sophomore guard Bubba Parham scored a career-high 38 points to help lead VMI past Western Carolina, 83-78, Saturday night in Southern Conference basketball action at the Ramsey Center.

Parham hit 13 of 26 shots from the floor including four 3-point shots on the night and in the process became the 41st player in VMI basketball history to hit the career 1,000 point threshold. The Snellville, Ga. native now has 1,016 points in his Keydet career.

Sophomore guard/forward Myles Lewis produced his first career-double double with 15 points and 12 rebounds and junior Garrett Gilkeson added 15 points as the Keydets swept the season series from the Catamounts.

It was the first win for the Keydets this season after trailing at the half as VMI shot 52% from the floor after intermission. WCU led 43-39 at the break following an opening half that saw nine lead changes between the conference rivals.

Western Carolina built its largest second half margin of eight points following a run of six consecutive points from Catamount forward Onno Steeger to put WCU ahead, 49-41, at the 18:53 mark. The home lead was quickly erased when VMI guard Sarju Patel nailed a corner three, Gilkeson converted a steal into a layup, and B. Parham dropped in a deep 3-pointer to tie the game at 49-49 at 16:25. Catamount guard Kameron Ginson responded with a layup ten second later to give WCU its last lead at 51-49 and Gilkeson put VMI on top for good with a 3-pointer off a fast break at the 14:50 mark.

The Keydets (8-20, 2-14 SoCon) gradually stretched their lead to nine points on two occasions and led 66-57 when Parham dropped in a paint jumper with 8:41 remaining. WCU chipped away and pulled within 80-78 with :33 left following a 3-point play by Marcus Thomas, but Gilkeson answered second later with two free throws and Lewis added another free throw while the Catamounts missed their final three shot attempts of regulation.

Forward Carlos Dotson led WCU (7-23, 4-13) in scoring with 27 points and hit 11 of 14 shots from the floor while grabbing 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the year.  Thomas and Steeger chipped in 21 and 19 points, respectively. Steeger, who also grabbed 11 rebounds, picked up his fourth foul at the 16:32 mark of the second half but did not foul out of the contest.

It was VMI’s first win at the Ramsey Center since a 113-111 overtime victory on February 21, 2015.

The Keydets hit 3-points shots to log their 15th game of the season with 10 or more treys.

VMI returns home next week to close out the regular season at home against Mercer Thursday night and The Citadel Saturday afternoon.

VMI Head Coach Dan Earl –

“Really proud of the guys because things hadn’t gone our way and we haven’t  been able to pull it out. Sometimes when things aren’t going well, guys can hang their heads, but I don’t sense that with this group. We’re not where we want to be in the standings, but we’re continuing to battle.”

“It was a total team effort and it certainly showed tonight. Certainly Bubba (Parham) scored the ball as did Myles (Lewis), but Tyler Creammer came off the bench and gave us some very valuable minutes  as well as Greg Parham and you can go down the list.”

“I thought we made enough little plays and hopefully forced them to take some tough shots down the stretch. Everybody chipped in with a number of rebounds and it has to be a team effort.”