LEXINGTON, Va. – Onno Steger scored a career-high 27 points as three Catamounts finished with 20-plus points but a late VMI run pushed the Keydets past WCU 91-83 on Saturday afternoon at Cameron Hall.
VMI improves to 7-12 overall and 1-6 in the Southern Conference while Western Carolina drops to 5-16 and 2-6.
Steger’s 27 points surpass his previous career-high of 23 points against Samford on Jan. 5. The Upper Arlington, Ohio native just missed a double-double with a game-high nine rebounds. Matt Halvorsen finished with 23 points, his third career 20-plus point game and third of the season. Kameron Gibson scored 20 points, his fourth game with 20 or more points this year. Gibson and Steger each had four assists.
Bubba Parham led the Keydets with a game-high 33 points. Parham went 11-for-21 from the field, 4-for-10 behind the 3-point line and 7-for-10 at the free throw line. Sarju Patel added 17 points followed by Jake Stephens with 16 and Myles Lewis with 13.
Parham opened the scoring for the Keydets 11 seconds into the game before a Gibson 3-pointer on the next WCU possession pushed the Catamounts ahead. Halvorsen completed a four-point play at the 18:07 mark as he was fouled on a successful 3-point attempt and made the ensuing free throw for a 7-4 WCU advantage. Following a Lewis layup, Western Carolina went on an 8-0 run to lead 19-15 with 12:25 to play in the half. The Keydets answered with a 6-0 run with a Patel turnaround jumper giving the hosts a 21-19 advantage.
Halvorsen’s 3-pointer at the 8:11 mark gave the Catamounts a 29-24 lead but VMI tied the game at 33 with a Lewis layup. Steger gave the Catamounts a 40-35 advantage with a pair of free throws with just under four minutes remaining but VMI closed the half on a 12-4 run to lead 47-44 at halftime.
A pair of Steger layups followed by two made free throws gave the Catamounts a 50-47 lead with just over 16 minutes remaining. VMI tied the contest at 52 with a Stephens 3-pointer at the 15:06 mark but Steger gave the Catamounts a 63-57 lead thanks to a 3-pointer with 11:31 to play. After a Gibson 3-pointer pushed the Catamounts ahead 75-73, VMI went on an 8-0 run capped by a Stephens three-point play to lead 81-75 with just under four minutes remaining. A Gibson jumper trimmed the Keydet lead to 82-80 at the 2:03 mark but Parham answered with a layup on the next VMI possession and WCU would get no closer for the rest of the game.
VMI went 32-for-57 (56.1 percent) from the field and 16-for-26 (61.5 percent) at the free throw line. Western Carolina went 29-for-52 (55.8 percent) from the field and 14-for-17 (82.4 percent) at the free throw line. Both teams made 11 of 25 (44.0 percent) 3-point attempts. WCU outrebounded VMI 38-20.
Western Carolina returns to action on Saturday, hosting ETSU at 7 p.m.