VMI Upsets Samford

The VMI basketball team pulled off a 96-78 upset win over Samford in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament on Friday, but the Keydets concluded the season with a 70-57 loss to East Tennessee State University on Saturday at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, N.C.

The ninth-seeded Keydets (9-24 overall, 3-15 SoCon), who had lost to eighth-seeded Samford (10-23, 4-14) in two close games during the regular season, snapped an 11-game losing streak and posted their first win over the Bulldogs since January of 2016.

VMI made a SoCon tournament record and a seasonbest 18 3-pointers in the win, including a 6-of-7 shooting performance from beyond the arc by Jake Stephens, who led all players with a career-high 24 points.

Five Keydets scored in double figures. Greg Parham and Travis Evee notched 16 points each, while Kamdyn Curfinan added 14 points and Myles Lewis chipped in 13. Garrett Gilkeson dished out a team high seven assists and, with eight rebounds, helped the Keydets amass a 44-39 advantage on the boards. The Keydets also handed out 23 assists on the night, second most in a game this season. Brandon Austin paced Samford with 20 points, while guard Josh Sharkey added 19 points and 10 assists.

In the quarterfinals, top seed ETSU pulled away from a close game to send the Keydets home. Four Bucs scored in double figures, as ETSU advanced to the semifinals, where they trounced Western Carolina 97-75. ETSU (29-4, 16-2) was scheduled to face Wofford in the championship game on Monday night.

Daivien Williamson led ETSU with 15 points, while Tray Boyd III and Isaiah Tisdale added 12 points each, and Joe Hugely chipped in 11. Coming off the bench to lead VMI were Sean Conway with 11 points and Parham with 10.

In the second half, VMI stepped up defensively to cut the lead to eight, 60-52, with just over five minutes to play. Boyd then hit a 3pointer, and ETSU led by double digits the rest of the way. VMI graduates three players this spring: Gilkeson, Will Miller and Tyler Creammer.

Cook Wins Shot Title

William and Mary junior All-American KJ Cook, a 2017 Parry McCluer High School graduate, won the shot put and placed fourth in the weight throw at the Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America (IC4A) Championships last weekend at Boston University.

The weekend concluded an outstanding indoor track and field season for Cook and William and Mary, which placed second of 37 scoring teams with 85 points, trailing only Connecticut (127.5), while Albany (62) was a distant third.

Cook, who won four state throwing titles at PM, recorded a career-best throw of 18.2 meters (59 feet, 8.5 inches) in the shot put for his first IC4A title on Sunday. He is just the second athlete in William and Mary history to win the shot title indoors.

On Saturday, Cook finished fourth in the weight throw with a toss of 18.74 meters (61-5.75) for All-East honors.

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