WEST POINT, N.Y. - Jarell Brown scored 19 points and Matt Bell tallied 17 points to lead the Army men’s basketball team past American, 60-55, in Patriot League action Wednesday evening at Christl Arena.
The win gives Army (12-7, 2-2 Patriot League) back-to-back league victories for the first time since the 2001-02 season. It marks the Black Knights’ seventh straight home win, their longest string of consecutive home triumphs since reeling off seven in a row during the 1984-85 campaign.
The victory, Army's first over American since 1963, snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Eagles. Additionally, Army has reached the 12-win plateau in a season for just the second time since 1986-87.
The Black Knights, who trailed by six points at halftime, played intense pressure defense in the second half, holding the Eagles to 31.0 percent shooting in the second stanza en route to the come-from-behind victory.
A Marcus Nelson slam dunk off a missed jumper ignited a late 9-2 Army run that turned a tenuous 42-41 Black Knight lead at the 4:43 mark into a 51-43 advantage with 1:07 to play.
Nelson’s put-back dunk was followed on Army’s next offensive possession by a tip-in by Brown, and the Black Knights converted 14-of-16 free throws down the stretch to cement the five-point verdict.
"I thought we played well defensively throughout the game," remarked Army head coach Jim Crews. "We hung in there in the first half, and were able to make some plays down the stretch in the second half to get the win.
"Marcus (Nelson) and Jarell (Brown) both made big plays for us at the end, and Matt (Bell) and Cory (Sinning) did a good job of knocking down their free throws."
After Bell hit a 15-foot jumper on Army’s first offensive possession, the Black Knights were held scoreless for the next four minutes. During that time, American ran off eight straight points to assume an 8-2 lead at the 15:53 mark. Army battled back with a 13-7 run to knot the score at 15-15 with 4:19 remaining in the first half. American closed the period on an 8-2 spurt, as the Eagles led 23-17 at the break.
The first half was a defensive struggled which featured 14 American turnovers and 11 Army miscues. Army shot just 26.1 percent in the opening stanza, while American hit 50.0 percent of its field goals. Brown led the Black Knights in the half with eight points.
Army began the second half on a 9-1 scoring burst to take a 26-24 advantage just three minutes into the stanza. The Black Knights, who never trailed again, saw their lead grow to five points (37-32) at the 9:04 mark. A 9-5 American run trimmed Army’s lead to 42-41 with 4:33 to play. With the game in the balance, the Black Knights made the big plays over the final four minutes to snare their second league win of the year.
Cory Sinning added 10 points for Army, while Doug Williams chipped in a team-high six rebounds.
Arvydas Eitutavicius led American with 17 points and a game-high seven rebounds, while Andre Ingram added 10 markers. The Eagles, who lost for the seventh time in nine games, fall to 9-9 (1-3 Patriot League).
Army returns to the court on Sunday, Jan. 21, when the Black Knights welcome Navy to Christl Arena. Tip off versus the arch-rival Midshipmen is set for 12 p.m. The clash of service academy rivals will be telecast live nationally by ESPNU.