Army Ends Road Trip With 67-57 Loss At Portland

Final Statistics: Portland 67, Army 57

PORTLAND, Ore.  – For the second straight game, the Black Knights battled back from a deficit in the mid-teens, but again came up short in a 67-57 loss at Portland on Saturday afternoon at the Chiles Center. The loss marked the first time this season the Black Knights (9-4) have lost two straight, while the Pilots (9-5) have now won four straight at home.

After Army held an early 6-2 lead, Portland went on a 22-3 run to seize control. The Black Knights were down 13 at halftime, but fought back to within four points with less than five minutes to go before suffering the 10-point loss, their first double-digit defeat of the season.

Sophomore G Julian Simmons led all scorers with 17 points, including a 5-for-7 day from three-point range. Senior G Josh Miller registered his third straight game in double figures with 11, while senior F Cleveland Richard rounded out Army’s top scorers with 10 points. Senior C Chris Walker led the Black Knights with six rebounds.

Ethan Niedermeyer led the Pilots with 14 points, including four three-pointers. Luke Sikma compiled a double-double of 12 points and a game-high 19 rebounds. Nik Raivio and T.J. Campbell had 11 points each.

The Pilots outrebounded Army, 41-25, including a 15-7 edge on the offensive glass.

Army hit just 34.7 percent of its shots, its third straight game below the 40-percent mark. The Black Knights did hit a season-high 47.1 percent of its three-pointers (8-17).  Portland made 45.8 percent of its attempts, including a 10-for-27 showing from long range. The Black Knights were 15 of 20 from the free throw line, while the Pilots were 13 for 26. It marked the first time this season Army lost a game in which it made more free throws than its opponent.

The Black Knights are now 0-4 this season when allowing opponents to score 60-or-more points.

After Portland scored the game’s first basket, Simmons hit back-to-back three-pointers to put Army in front 6-2 with 17:49 left in the first half. The Pilots answered with their 19-point run that included four straight three-pointers to lead 24-9 with 11:46 to go. The Portland spurt included a five-minute, 36-second stretch without a Black Knights field goal, while the Pilots started 12 for 17 from the field and 5 of 8 from three-point range.

The Pilots led 31-16 with 9:02 left on the clock but Army answered with a 6-0 run that included Simmons’ third triple of the half. Army appeared poised to lengthen the run, but Stohl hit a long three as the shot clock expired to push the Pilots back in front by 12 with 4:32 to go. Richard answered with a jumper to make it a 10-point game, but Portland scored the next five points to push its lead back to 15 at 39-24 with 1:34 to go. Army scored the final two points of the half on a pair of free throws by Miller to set the halftime score at 39-26.

Simmons scored all of his team-high nine first-half points from long range. Raivio led the Pilots with nine points in the first 20 minutes. Army shot a respectable 45.0 percent (9-20) in the opening stanza, including a 4-of-6 showing from deep, but the Pilots hit 15 of their 28 attempts (.536), six of which came from beyond the arc (6-14).

Army came out firing to open the second half, scoring the first eight points, and 10 of the first 12, to close within five points at 41-36 with 15:02 left. The Black Knights held the Pilots without a point for the first 4:35 of the period. After exchanging free throws, Niedermeyer hit the Pilots’ first three-pointer of the second half to push Portland back in front by eight at 46-38 with 11:49 to go. The bucket started a 15-6 Pilots’ run that included four three-pointers that pushed the Portland lead to 58-44 with 7:25 left.

 The Black Knights scored the next 10 points over a two-minute, 54-second span to pull within four points at 58-54 with 4:18 left. Miller had four points during the run. That was as close as Army would come, however, as the Pilots cored the next four points to re-establish an eight-point lead with 1:25 left. Army got within six points, but Portland ended the game by scoring five of the final six points, all from the foul line.

Army returns home for its final non-conference game of the season on Wednesday, Jan. 6 versus Brown. Tip-off at Christl Arena is set for 7 p.m. The Black Knights will be going for a season sweep of their Ivy League opponents. Army is 4-0 so far in 2009-10 with wins over Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. Fans who attend Saturday’s Army hockey game versus Union at Tate Rink will receive free admission to Wednesday’s basketball match up when they present their hockey ticket stub.

Game Notes: Saturday was Army’s western-most game since playing in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawai’i during the 1993-94 season … the Black Knights’ 13-point halftime deficit was their largest of the season (12 at SMU) … Army has not won a game more than two hours time difference from West Point since defeating Air Force in Irvine, Calif., during the 1987-88 season … the all-time series between Army and Portland is now tied at 1-1 … Army dropped to 3-4 on the road this season … the Black Knights are 6-0 at home this season and have won seven in a row at Christl Arena … after going 12 for 12 from the free throw line at SMU, Army missed its first free throw attempt of Saturday’s game … five different Pilots made at least one three-pointer … Josh Miller has reached double figures in four of the last five games … Marcus Nelson fouled out for the third time this season … Army had made 70 percent or better from the free throw line only once entering the two-game road trip, but were 12 for 12 at SMU and 15 for 20 at Portland, shooting 84.4 percent for the trip.

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