Army 61, Dartmouth 54
HANOVER, N.H. Army used a 21-4 run over the final seven minutes and 22 seconds to overcome a 10-point deficit and score a 61-54 win at Dartmouth on Saturday night. The Black Knights trailed by as many as 11 in the second half, but rallied for their first double-digit comeback of the season and only their third in the last four seasons.
The victory snapped the Black Knights’ two-game losing streak and improved their record to 4-9 on the season. Dartmouth dropped to 2-10. It was the Black Knights’ second road win of the season.
Cleveland Richard’s three-pointer with 1:02 left gave Army a 56-54 lead it would never relinquish. Including the three-pointer, the Black Knights scored the final eight points of the game, drilling 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute.
“I really am proud of these guys,” head coach Jim Crews said. “We started off really well, and then the game leveled off in the first half. To start the second half, we were just awful defensively, but we stayed with it.”
Richard was Army’s offensive leader all game, finishing with a career-high 20 points. It was the first 20-point game by a Black Knight this season. The junior forward also added three rebounds, two assists and two steals without committing a turnover in 37 minutes of work. Freshman G Julian Simmons made his first career start and responded with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting, including a 3-for-5 effort from behind the three-point line. Senior F Doug Williams grabbed a team-high six rebounds, while junior G Josh Miller filled the stat sheet with eight points, two rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Alex Barnett led the Big Green with 17 points, 2.5 below his season average, and a game-high seven rebounds. Clive Weeden was the only other Dartmouth player in double figures with 10, all of which came in the second half.
The Black Knights shot 50 percent in the second half to finish at 44.0 percent for the game. Army committed a season-low 10 turnovers and forced nine of the 13 Dartmouth miscues in the second half. The Big Green outrebounded the Black Knights, 37-35, including a 15-10 advantage on the offensive glass. Army was able to overcome a 17-6 deficit in the second-chance points category by outscoring the Big Green from the foul line, 12-3.
The Black Knights came out firing on all cylinders, scoring the first seven points of the game in only two minutes and 40 seconds. Simmons scored five points during the run, including a three that put Army on top 7-0 with 17:40 to go. After the two teams exchanged baskets, the Big Green came back with a 10-2 run of their own. Barnett’s putback with 10:02 left in half gave Dartmouth its first lead at 12-11.
Simmons gave Army a 13-12 lead at the 9:36 mark, ending a four-minute and 33-second drought for the Black Knights. Dartmouth came back and led by two at 17-15 before the Black Knights went on another 7-0 run to take a 22-17 lead with 3:17 left in the opening half. Trailing 24-19, The Big Green scored the final five points of the half to go into the locker room with a 24-24 tie.
Jabari Trotter extended the Big Green run into the second half with a three-pointer on the opening possession to give Dartmouth a 27-24 lead. Army sliced the margin to one point at 33-32 on a three-pointer by Simmons with 15:58 left, but the Big Green responded with a 13-3 run to open up their largest lead of the game at 46-35 with 10:43 left. A putback by junior G Marcus Nelson stopped the run and ended a stretch of four minutes and 44 seconds without a field goal.
With his team down 50-40, Richard kickstarted the game-winning run with a jumper. Miller was true from long range and senior F Kenny Brewer hit a pair of free throws to pull the Black Knights to within three points with 5:46 to go. Army had a chance to cut into the lead or tie on two occasions, but a turnover and a missed free throw kept the deficit at three points. Barnett pushed the lead back to five at 52-47, but Brewer’s putback dunk narrowed the gap back to three.
Dartmouth missed the front end of a one-and-one that would have made it a two possession game, and Army took advantage when sophomore F Jeremy Hence took a feed from Miller and finished in the paint to make it a 52-51 game with 3:15 to go. Richard put Army on top for the first time in the half with another jumper, but a foul sent the Big Green to the line with a chance to regain the lead. Weeden missed both free throws, but got his own rebound which led to a jumper by Ronnie Dixon that pushed Dartmouth back in front by one point, 54-53. That was Dartmouth’s last lead of the game. After Richard’s game-winning triple, Williams hit both ends of a one-and-one, Hence made one of two shots from the line and Miller drilled a pair of free throws to ice the game while the Army defense kept the Big Green off the board in the final 1:35.
The victory gave Army the season sweep over the Big Green. The Black Knights defeated Dartmouth in the season opener, 63-48, at Christl Arena.
Army plays its final non-conference game of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 6 versus Fairfield. Tip-off at Christl Arena is set for 7 p.m. The match up with the Stags is the first of a three-game homestand for the Black Knights.
Game Notes: Army used its sixth different starting lineup of the season on Saturday. Kenny Brewer made his first start of the season, while rookie Julian Simmons made his first career start. Cleveland Richard and Marcus Nelson are the only two players to start all 13 games this season ... The 24-24 score at intermission marked the first time this season Army has been tied at halftime ... The win evened the all-time series between Army and Dartmouth at 16-16. It was the Black Knights’ third straight win in the series ... Army’s 11-point comeback was its first double-digit comeback since being down by 10 in the first half against Sacred Heart last season ... The Black Knights have outscored their last two opponents by a total of 15 points after halftime.