Second Half Run Sends Air Force Past Army

Josh Herbeck made one of Army's six three-pointers against Air Force.

Josh Herbeck made one of Army's six three-pointers against Air Force.

Nov. 12, 2011

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USAFA, Colo.  - Air Force used a 17-3 second-half run to break open a one-point game and go on to a 87-71 victory over Army in the season opener for both schools at the All-Military Classic. The Black Knights led 59-58 with 9:22 left in the second half before the Falcons' decisive run.

The first 10 minutes, 38 seconds of the second half featured nine lead changes. Army led 35-32 at halftime, but Air Force scored the first four points after intermission to start the see-saw exchange. The Black Knights trailed 58-55 at the 10:31 mark, but four straight points, including a three-point play by junior F Ella Ellis gave Army its final lead of the game.

Ellis led three Army scorers in double figures with 17 points. Senior G Julian Simmons inched closer to the 1,000-point mark with 16 markers. He has now scored 918 points during his West Point career. Freshman G Mo Williams poured in 15 points in his collegiate debut. Ellis also led the Black Knights with six rebounds.

The Black Knights, who set Academy records for three-point field goals made and attempted last season, were just 6-for-29 (.207) from deep against Air Force. Simmons made three of the Black Knights' triples (3-11), while Williams, Ellis and sophomore G Josh Herbeck combined for the other three.

Army shot 39.7 percent (23-58) for the game, while Air Force hit 55.8 percent of its shots (29-52). The two teams combined for 47 turnovers, including 24 miscues by the Black Knights. Air Force outscored Army 29-15 in the points off turnovers category. The Falcons held a 39-26 rebounding edge.

The game also saw a combined 62 foul shots. Army was 19-for-26 from the stripe, while Air Force connected on 26 of its 36 foul shots.

Four Air Force starters scored in double figures led by Michael Lyons' 24 points. He just missed a double-double with a game-high nine rebounds. Taylor Stewart added 16 points and seven assists, while Todd Fletcher chipped in 14 points. Mike Fitzgerald rounded out the Falcons' top scorers with 13 points, all in the first half.

Army took an early 3-0 lead on a free throw and a layup by freshman G Maxwell Lenox, but the Falcons answered with seven of the next nine points to lead 7-5 with 16:19 left in the first half. Williams drilled his first career triple to give Army back the lead, but Air Force answered again with a 7-3 spurt to take a 14-11 lead on a three-pointer by Fitzgerald with 13:00 to go before halftime.

Ellis stemmed the tied with a jumper, but Fitzgerald scored the game's next five points to extend the Falcons' lead to 19-13 with 11:15 left on the first-half clock. Army fought back with six straight points, including back-to-back baskets by sophomore Andrew Stire, to knot the game at 19-19 with 9:33 left.

Air Force regained a four-point edge at 23-19 and led 27-24 when Simmons knocked down a three-pointer to jump start a 9-2 Army run. Ellis' first three-pointer provided Army's largest first-half lead at 35-30 with 1:06 to go in the half. Air Force scored the final basket of the half, sending the Black Knights into the locker room with a 35-32 edge.

Both teams struggled to take care of the ball in the first half, combining for 27 turnovers. The Black Knights turned it over 13 times, while the Falcons committed 14 miscues. Army shot 44.8 percent (13-29) overall, but were just 4-for-14 (.286) from behind the three-point line. Air Force was 11-for-23 (.478) overall and 3-for-10 from deep.

Ellis led the Black Knights with eight first-half points. Fitzgerald led all players with 13 points on a 5-for-5 showing from the field that included three three-pointers.

Fletcher scored the first four points of the second half to push the Falcons' back in front, 36-35, but four straight points by Simmons put Army back on top by three with 17:46 left. An 8-2 Air Force run pushed the Falcons ahead by three, but four free throws by Ellis and Williams put Army ahead, 45-43, with 13:52 left.

The Falcons again answered, regaining a two-point edge at 47-45, but Herbeck nailed his only three-pointer of the game to push Army back in front with 12:49 left. The three-pointer ended the Black Knights' four-minute, 20-second span without a field goal.

Air Force scored the next five points to take a 52-48 lead. Army trailed 54-52 before Ellis completed a three-point play to give the Black Knights a one-point edge with 11:06 to play. The Falcons scored the next four points to lead 58-55 with 10:31 to go, setting up Army's final push and the game-deciding run.

Army was able to get within 10 points at 79-69, but Air Force scored eight of the final 10 points to set the final margin.

The Black Knights continue play at the All-Military Classic on Saturday. Army will face the loser of the VMI-Citadel match up at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Game Notes: Army played three freshmen, including Maxwell Lenox who made his first career start ... the Black Knights have dropped nine straight, including seven straight road games, dating back to last season ... Army is now 76-34 all-time in season openers ... the Black Knights are 36-18 since the start of 2007-08 when leading  at halftime, but 11-13 in that span when the lead is five points or less ... Army has lost 26 of its last 27 games when allowing at least 80 points ... Ella Ellis has scored in double figures in 13 of the last 14 games ... Army was outscored 42-26 in the paint.

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