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VMI Hosts ETSU on National Girls and Women in Sports Day – Virginia Military Institute

Written by corres2

LEADING OFF – VMI (11-10, 4-5 SoCon) returns home Saturday afternoon to face the ETSU Bucs in a battle between two teams deadlocked in the SoCon standings heading into weekend action. VMI and ETSU are in currently in a three-way tie for Wofford for fifth place and both teams are looking to snap two-game losing skids. VMI rallied in the second half to tie Furman with five minutes to go in regulation only to see the Paladins kick into an 18-3 stretch run to win 79-64 and split the regular season series. ETSU was outlasted by UNCG, 80-76, at Freedom Hall Wednesday night which made the Bucs 12-10, 4-5. VMI will be looking to turn the tables on the Bucs after falling 80-79 January in Johnson City in the first regular season meeting between the teams. VMI continues to top of the SoCon in scoring averaging 79.1 points a game and the Keydets continue to excel in several other statistical categories and pace the circuit in free throw percentage (.785), field goal percentage defense (.391), defensive rebounds (29.4) and 3-point field goals per game (12.5). Saturday is National Girls and Women in Sports Day and Girls ages 3 through 18 wearing any scout or athletic uniform receive free admission to the game between the Keydets and the Bucs.  VMI women graduates will also receive free admission to the game. For tickets, go to vmitickets.com.

LAST TIME OUT – Junior guard Kamdyn Curfman became the 44th Keydet in program history to attain 1,000 career points but the VMI basketball team faltered late in a 79-64 loss to host Furman Wednesday night at Timmons Arena in Greenville, South Carolina. He finished the contest with 16 points and now stands at 1,012 for his career. The Paladins (15-7, 7-2) proved to be the aggressor throughout the game and outrebounded the Keydets (11-10, 4-5) by a 47-32 margin, including 18 offensive boards that yielded 18 second-chance points. VMI also went cold late in the game as Furman went on an 18-3 run over the last five minutes to balloon the lead as the Keydets missed their final nine shot attempts from the floor. Keydet senior center Jake Stephens led VMI with 20 points and now has a total of 11 20+ point games this season, including eight of the last nine contests. Conley Garrison led the Paladins with 22 points on the night after going 8-11 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from three-point range. Jalen Slawson poured in 21 points for the hosts.

LAST MEETING WITH ETSU – January 5, 2022 – Down by a 47-30 count at the half, the VMI basketball team rallied to score 49 points in the second half but came up a point shy as the Keydets fell 80-79 to host ETSU at Freedom Hall in Johnson City, Tennessee. The Bucs got ahead early in the first half by a 20-10 score, but VMI rallied to trim the deficit to 26-22 following a Kamdyn Curfman layup with 6:44 to go before the break. ETSU got going again, however, to score 21 points from that point on until the half and the Keydets struggled to keep pace to go into a 47-30 hole after the first half of play. VMI rallied in the second half to claw back from a 19-point deficit and gradually cut into ETSU’s lead. The Keydets eventually accomplished the feat by tying the score at 63-63 with 8:29 to play following a Tanner Mans three-pointer. The teams played point-for-point a few minutes before ETSU built a gradual seven-point lead at 76-69 with 3:20 left on the clock. VMI’s Trey Bonham hit a trey to make the score 76-72 for the Bucs, but VMI ran out of time to complete the rally as ETSU escaped with the 80-79 victory. Senior center Jake Stephens finished with his 11th career double-double while David Sloan led the Bucs with 20 points on the night while Ledarrius Brewer ended up with 19 in the scorebook.

 A WIN OVER ETSU WOULD …

— Move VMI to 5-5 in conference play

— Be VMI’s 18th home win over the last 21 games. 

— Snap a 13-game skid against the Bucs.

VMI vs. ETSU

This will be the 69th meeting between the teams that first met in 1953. ETSU leads the series, 54-14, and has taken the last 13 meetings including an 80-79 decision in Johnson City on January 5. In games played in Lexington, ETSU leads 24-7. The last VMI win over the Bucs in Cameron Hall occurred in 2014-15, 84-79.  

STEPHENS ROLLS ALONG – Senior center Jake Stephens is putting together one of the most remarkable campaigns in VMI basketball history. Stephens currently leads the team in scoring average with 18.9 PPG (2nd best in SoCon) and has 11 20+ point games this year including 8 of the last 9 contests. He also paces the squad in rebounding (8.9-1st in SoCon) and free throw percentage (81.5%-6th in SoCon). His 2.1 blocks per game rank second in the SoCon. Stephens has also been named Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week three times this season – most recently January 17 after a week where he posted a career-high 34 points at Mercer Jan. 13 and two days later pulled down a career-best 21 rebounds at The Citadel – the most by a SoCon player this season and was tied for seventh on the NCAA Division I game-high list this season.  Senior center Jake Stephens rang in the New Year with a shower of accolades after being named the Lou Henson College Insider National Player of the Week and both SoCon GEICO Player of the Week and December Player of the month. In December, Stephens averaged 21.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 blocked shots per game and shot 57.6 percent from the floor in helping VMI to a 4-1 record during the month. Stephens scored 28 points against Gardner-Webb December 11 to become the 43rd player in VMI history to reach that mark. 

CURFMAN ESCLIPSES  1,000 POINTS –Junior guard Kamdyn Curfman became the 44th player in VMI history to score 1,000 points in his VMI basketball career after a 16-point effort at Furman January 26  . He is tied for first in the SoCon in 3FG per game (3.8) and his 80 makes from beyond the arc top the league. Curfman has scored in double figures in all 21 games this season with six 20+ games including a career-high 27 points at Marist November 20. Curfman matched his career-high in 3-pointers in a game when he nailed six 3’s vs. Samford January 20 after doing so at Wake Forest December and Central Arkansas November 25. Curfman and has hit 5+ 3FG in eight games this season.  

HUFF WITH THREE STRAIGHT CAREER HIGHS – Freshman guard Honor Huff set career scoring highs in three consecutive January games. The Brooklyn, NY native had 15 points at The Citadel Jan. 15, 21 points vs. Samford Jan. 20, and 23 points against Chattanooga last Saturday.  

MORE LONG-RANGE ACCURACY – Through games of January 26, VMI leads the nation in three-pointers per game averaging 12.5 per contest and have hit 10+ threes in 18 games this season. The SoCon has three of the top five teams in the nation in three-pointers made per game with Furman 2nd (12.3), and The Citadel 6th (10.7). VMI in 2020-21 ranked second in the nation in 3-pointers made per game for the second straight year and averaged 10.8 per game ranking only behind Oral Roberts with 11.1 per contest. The Keydets drained 10 or more threes in 17 games last season. In 2019-20, VMI also ranked second in Division I in three-pointers made averaging 10.9 per game, second only to North Florida. VMI converted on 359 threes that season – the third most on the school all-time list.


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