WORCESTER, Mass. Sophomore Cleveland Richard scored a career-high 15 points to lead the Army men’s basketball team to a 53-39 victory over Holy Cross at the Hart Center on Wednesday evening. The victory ended the Crusaders’ 23-game home winning streak and snapped the Black Knights’ 13-game losing streak versus Holy Cross.
Army improved to 8-8 overall and 1-1 in the Patriot League, while Holy Cross dropped to 9-6 overall and 0-2 in league play. It is the first time Army has split its first two conference games since the 2001-02 season.
The Crusaders led 29-28 with 12:35 to go, but Army used a 20-4 run to take control of the game and earn just their third win ever in Worcester.
Richard was one of three Army players in double figures. Junior Doug Williams scored all 12 of his points after halftime, while senior Jarell Brown poured in 10 of his 12 points in the second stanza. Williams tied for the team lead with five rebounds. Sophomore Josh Miller also had five rebounds and scored five points. Sophomore Marcus Nelson and Brown each had four assists.
The Army defense forced 22 turnovers and limited the Crusaders to 33.3 percent shooting, including a 26.7-percent mark from long range. The Black Knights outscored Holy Cross 26-8 in the points off turnovers category. Army committed a season-low nine turnovers, helping the Black Knights overcome a 38-23 rebounding deficit. Army shot 42.2 percent for the game.
Tim Clifford led the Crusaders with 13 points. Andrew Beinert was the only other player in double figures with 12, including three three-pointers. Alex Vander Baan pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Black Knights scored first on a jumper by Richard, but the Crusaders responded with their first three-pointer of the game to take a 3-2 advantage at the 18:06 mark of the first half. Army scored the next four points, regaining its lead at 6-3. With the game tied at 9-9, Richard hit from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down to give the Black Knights a 12-9 lead and jumpstart a 10-2 run that pushed the margin to 19-11 with just more than five minutes left in the half. A putback by Clifford ignited a 7-0 run by the Crusaders that pulled them within one point at 19-18 before Richard took a feed from Nelson and laid it in with one second left on the shot clock to extend the lead back to three points. The teams exchanged foul shots to send the Black Knights into the locker room with a 22-19 advantage.
Richard scored nine points in the first half, including his first three-pointer off the season, to lead all Army scorers. The Black Knights forced 12 first-half turnovers that led to 17 of their 22 points before halftime.
Army led 26-23 after a baseline drive by Chris Walker, but a Holy Cross three-pointer tied the game at 26-26. Richard came right back with a bucket to give the Black Knights a 28-26 lead with 15:29 to go in the game. Clifford tied it on Holy Cross’ next possession, and a Collin Cunningham free throw gave the Crusaders a 29-28 lead with 12:35 to go before Army’s decisive run. Williams put the Black Knights back up on top, ending a four-minute scoring drought, starting a 9-0 run that pushed Army’s lead to 37-29. The spurt included Brown’s first three-pointer of the game after he missed his first nine field goal attempts and was capped by a pair of free throws following a Holy Cross technical foul.
Following a pair of free throws by Clifford, Williams converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 40-31. He followed with another three-point play on a dunk and a foul to push Army’s lead to 12. After a second-chance basket by the Crusaders, Brown scored the next five points on a triple and a dunk that made it 48-33. Holy Cross was able to cut the lead to 12, but would come no closer for the remainder of the contest. The Black Knights led by as many as 16 in the final minute.
Army’s 39 points allowed was a season-low. The Black Knights have not allowed more than 52 points in any of their last three games.
The Black Knights return home to host Lehigh on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. in their first Patriot League home game of the season.
Game Notes: Army used its ninth starting lineup of the season at Holy Cross (Corban Bates, Jarell Brown, Marcus Nelson, Cleveland Richard, Doug Williams) ... Josh Miller was not in the first five for the first time this season, making Brown the only Army player to start every game this season ... The Crusaders entered the game ranked 21st in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 ... The Black Knights are now 3-29 all-time versus the Crusaders in Worcester ... Richard’s basket just 53 seconds into the game marked the first time Army led in the last 80:53 of game action ... Nelson’s three-pointer in the first half was his first in five games ... He attempted only two in that span ... Brown has not been held to less than 10 points in consecutive games since the last two contests of his freshman year ... Wednesday’s win was Army head coach Jim Crews’ first against Holy Cross since taking over the Black Knights.