Second Half Surge Pushes Holy Cross Past Army

Holy Cross 47, Army 36

WEST POINT, N.Y. Holy Cross used a 19-3 second half run to break open a one-point game and score a 47-36 victory over Army in Patriot League men’s basketball action at Christl Arena on Wednesday night.

The Black Knights dropped to 4-12 overall and 0-2 in league play, while the Crusaders improved to 7-11 and 2-0 in conference games.

Army struggled from the floor for the second straight game. The Black Knights hit just 30.0 percent (12-40) for the game, including 24.0 percent in the second half (6-25). In addition to their shooting woes, the Black Knights committed 17 turnovers. The Crusaders shot 46.3 percent for the game, including 55.0 percent (11-20) after halftime. Army shot a season-low 27.3 percent in its loss to Colgate on Jan. 10.

The Black Knights’ 36 points were a season low and the lowest scoring game since a 52-35 loss at Presbyterian last season. Holy Cross’ 47 points represented the lowest point total in an Army loss since a 42-38 defeat versus Colgate in 2006-07.

“Except for that one stretch, I thought we did a pretty good job defensively. I really did,” Army head coach Jim Crews said. “We put pretty good pressure on the ball and we were anticipating and fighting. I was pleased with it except for that segment . Offensively, we just really struggle. We go on too long of droughts and we don’t finish plays when we need to. We turned it over too many times tonight.”

Junior F Cleveland Richard led the Black Knights with eight points and was one of three players to grab three rebounds. Senior F John Moonshower, senior C Doug Williams and junior G Marcus Nelson all scored six points.

Holy Cross rookie R.J. Evans led all scorers with 17 points. Andrew Beinert accounted for 14 points, including four three-pointers. Andrew Keister pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

Evans put Holy Cross up 2-0 on its first possession, and the game remained that way until the 16:40 mark. Nelson ended the drought with a three-pointer that started a 13-4 run to give the Black Knights a 13-6 lead with 9:27 left. After making its first shot of the game, the Crusaders made just two of their next nine shots with Evans scoring their first six points.

Beinert banked in a three-pointer to cut the Army lead to 13-9 and ignite a 5-0 run that pulled the Crusaders back within two at the 5:59 mark. Adam May tied the game at 15-15 with a putback basket, and Holy Cross took 16-15 lead on a free throw by Evans with 3:33 left.

A layup by junior C Chris Walker gave Army back a one-point lead and ended an eight-minute, 54-second span without a field goal. Between baskets, the Black Knights were 0 for 5 from the field and committed seven turnovers. A pair of free throws by Moonshower extended the Army lead back to three points, but May tied the game from the foul line, hitting all three free throws after being knocked down on a shot attempt from behind the arc. After the Black Knights’ 12th turnover gave the Crusaders the ball with 13.1 seconds left, Devin Brown hit a jumper to end the half and send his team into the locker room ahead, 21-19.

Both offenses struggled with turnovers in the first half. The Black Knights committed 12 miscues, while the Crusaders turned the ball over 10 times. Army shot 40 percent from the floor (6-15), while Holy Cross hit 38.1 percent of its attempts (8-21).

Evans led all scorers with 11 of the Crusaders’ 21 first-half points. Richard was the Black Knights top point producer with six points.

After two fruitless possessions to start the half,  junior G Josh Miller stroked a three-pointer to give the Black Knights a 22-21 lead with 17:24 to go in the game. The lead was short lived, however, as Cunningham put the Crusaders back on top with a putback on their next possession. May hit a triple to push the Holy Cross advantage to four points, but Nelson answered with a three-pointer for Army.

Clinging to a 28-27 lead, Beinert put the Crusaders on his shoulders, pumping in the first 11 points of the deciding run.  Army went 10 minutes and 22 seconds without a field goal, missing 13 consecutive shots and turning the ball over twice. Richard’s basket with 2:27 left stopped the drought and jumpstarted a 6-0 run that brought the Black Knights back within 11 points and set the final margin.

The Black Knights have now lost four straight games at home for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

Army plays its first league road game on Saturday, Jan. 17 at Lehigh. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. The Mountain Hawks swept the regular-season series in 2007-08, but Army scored an overtime road win in the Patriot League quarterfinals.

Game Notes: Army went back to its most used starting lineup of the season. Josh Miller, John Moonshower, Marcus Nelson, Cleveland Richard and Doug Williams started their sixth game of the season, and first since the Florida Gulf Coast game on Dec. 30  ... Army took 15 shots and committed 12 turnovers in the first half ... Nelson tied his career high with two three-pointers. He is 4 for 5 from long range on the season ... Army was outrebounded for the fifth straight game ... Richard has now led the Black Knights in scoring a team-high five times ... Wednesday’s game marked the third time this season Army did not have a player score at least 10 points in a game.


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