LEXINGTON, Va. – The VMI basketball team put up a valiant effort and led most of the game, but UNCG (14-2, 3-0) rallied to defeat VMI 71-68 Saturday in Southern Conference action in Cameron Hall.
The Spartans led 67-64 with four minutes left and had several chances to extend the advantage but the Keydet defense kept it a three-point game. Freshman Jake Stephens nailed a three-pointer with 2:08 remaining on the game clock to tie the contest.
Francis Alonso hit a clutch three pointer for UNCG with 51 ticks left. The teams traded one free throw apiece and VMI had the ball with a chance to tie in the closing seconds, but Kyrin Galloway blocked the potential tying three-pointer to seal the victory.
Sophomore Bubba Parham led VMI and tied for the game high with 17 points, and added five rebounds and five assists. Junior guard Garrett Gilkeson had a solid all-around game with 14 points, a team-best eight rebounds, three assists and three three-pointers. Sophomore Sarju Patel hit all seven of his free-throw attempts and finished with 14 points, while Tyler Creammer added nine points and six boards. Greg Parham had eight points, while Myles Lewis contributed three steals and four rebounds.
VMI led 40-32 at halftime, UNCG’s first lead of the second half didn’t come until 5:34 remained.
Isaiah Miller paced UNCG with 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds along with three steals. Alonso had 17 points, three assists and three steals and James Dickey added nine points and six rebounds.
The Spartans held a 19-9 edge in turnovers, while the Keydets out-rebounded their taller opponents 42-36.
VMI (6-9/0-3) hosts Furman University Thursday at 7 p.m. in more Southern Conference action.
QUOTES FROM VMI COACH DAN EARL:
"Credit UNCG. They were tough. They came in the second half with a lot of energy. We had been talking about coming out in the second half and playing with the intensity we need to. Unfortunately, they cut into our lead again and that hurt us."
"Down the stretch we had too many turnovers. We got maybe a little tight and threw the ball away against their press."
"It's disappointing not to come out with a win, at the same time there were a lot of positives and I think we made growth. We competed throughout the game. We saw efforts like Tyler Creammer grabbing rebounds in traffic and Bubba Parham did as well. Multiple guys defended well. Ta'Vonne Bond came in and gave us minutes and was down in his stance and defended."
"There are still things to work on but we made steps in the right direction. Now we have to consistently have that effort each and every practice and game."