Jan. 8, 2014
Army 79, Lehigh 76
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Kyle Wilson scored 23 points, including five of his six free throw attempts in the final 26 seconds, to lead Army (7-7, 3-0 PL) to a 79-76 win over Lehigh (8-8, 1-2 PL) at Stabler Arena Wednesday night. The Black Knights have now won four straight games, and are now 3-0 in Patriot League play for the first time in program history.
Army led 74-67 after a jumper by Wilson with 1:16 to go, but Lehigh went on a 7-1 run to cut it to a 75-74 deficit after a fastbreak basket by Corey Schaefer with 20 seconds left. Wilson and Mackey McKnight exchanged free throws to keep it a one-point game before Army’s leading scorer was fouled for the third time in the closing seconds. Wilson drained a pair of foul shots with 6.4 seconds on the clock for what proved to be the final margin. McKnight had one last chance for the Mountain Hawks, but his three-pointer glanced off the rim, sealing the Black Knights’ victory.
Army trailed by four points at one point in the second half, but used a 15-3 spurt to take an eight-point lead. Neither team led by more than eight for the entire game that featured three ties and nine lead changes.
Wilson was one of four Army players in double figures. Tanner Plomb scored 14 points, 12 of which came in the first half, and Kevin Ferguson chipped in with 10 points. Mo Williams rounded out Army’s top scorers with 10 points. Plomb led the team with six rebounds, while Dylan Cox dished out six assists. Ferguson blocked two shots, and Tanner Omlid made two ofArmy’s six steals. It was the fourth straight game he had at least two swipes.
The Black Knights were outrebounded, 35-29, but held a 10-9 edge on the offensive glass. Army forced 13 turnovers and converted them into 17 points.
McKnight led the Mountain Hawks with 19 points, including seven in the final 50 seconds. Schaefer added 13, while Tim Kempton scored 12 and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Austin Price and Justin Goldsborough came off the bench to score 11 each. McKnight also handed out four assists.
Lehigh took an early 3-0 lead, but four straight points by Plomb gave the Black Knights their first lead of the game. The Mountain Hawks ripped off the next seven points to lead 10-4 with 14:20 left in the opening half, but Plomb buried his first three-pointer to start an 8-2 run. His second three-pointer tied the game at 12. The Mukwonago, Wis., native made his first four shots, including two triples.
With the score tied at 15-15 after a three by Josh Herbeck, the Mountain Hawks scored the next seven points to take a 22-15 lead with 10:01 to go. Lehigh led 27-19 with 7:24 to go in the half when Williams stroked a three-pointer to jump start a 20-4 spurt that turned the Black Knights’ eight-point deficit into an eight-point lead at 39-31. Army scored 13 straight points during that span, including nine by Wilson. Schaefer scored for Lehigh to end their five-minute, 40-second drought, and Wilson’s last attempt was off the iron to send the Black Knights into the locker room with a 39-33 lead.
Ferguson scored Army’s first two baskets of the second half as the Black Knights took a 43-35 advantage with 18:04 remaining in the game. The Mountain Hawks methodically reduced Army’s advantage, and used a 15-4 run to take a 59-55 lead with 8:17 to go.
Wilson started Army’s comeback with a three-pointer, and Matt Gramling converted an old-fashioned three-point play to quickly give Army the lead back at 61-59. The Black Knights would not trail the remainder of the contest.
With Army up 72-64, McKnight started Lehigh’s rally with a three-point play. Williams then came up with a big defensive play for Army, thwarting a fastbreak attempt that would have cut the lead to just three points with 1:41 left. Wilson converted the opportunity on the other end to push Army’s lead back to seven, but McKnight buried a triple off an inbounds play to make it 74-70 with less than 47 seconds left.
The Black Knights missed the front end of a one-and-one and Lehigh was able to save possession of the loose ball with a time out. McKnight again scored, circling the rim once before hitting a one-hander in the lane to make it a two-point game with less than 29 seconds left. Wilson hit one of two foul shots for a three-point advantage, and Schaefer scored his layup after corralling the loose ball on the miss. Wilson scored Army’s final four points at the line before McKnight’s last attempt was off the mark.
The win snapped Army’s five-game losing streak against Lehigh. The Black Knights have now won eight of their last nine Patriot League regular season outings. The only loss in that span was to Lehigh at Stabler Arena last season.
Army continues its two-game road trip Saturday afternoon at Navy. Tip-off at Alumni Hall is set for 4 p.m. The game will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.
Game Notes: Dylan Cox made his team-leading 45th consecutive start … Army has won six of its last seven games to get to the .500 mark for the first time since being 1-1 … the victory was Zach Spiker’s 60th at West Point, tying him for sixth on Army’s all-time wins list … Spiker is the first Army coach to win at least 60 games in their first five seasons since Les Wothke won 61 from 1982-87 … Tanner Plomb has reached double figures in five of the last seven games … Kevin Ferguson’s two blocked shots moved him into a second place tie on Army’s single-season ledger (32) … he set the record last season with 35 rejections … Ferguson’s 67 career blocks are the third most all-time, just seven off the record … six different players have scored in double figures in the last two games … Army is now 62-12 in its last 74 games when shooting a better percentage than its opponent … the Black Knights have led at the half in all seven of their victories … Wilson now has 15 career 20-point games, eight of which have come this season … he has scored at least 23 five times in Army’s last seven games (6-1) … the Black Knights and Mids have split the series the last 10 years with each team winning 10 times … Army’s win last season came in Annapolis … the annual “Star” Game will be played on Feb. 8 at West Point.