EASTON, Pa.- Paul Cummins scored a career-high 22 points and Andrew Brown added 17 points as Lafayette defeated Army, 76-68, in a Patriot League men’s basketball game Wednesday evening at Kirby Sports Center.
Army, which saw its modest three-game win streak snapped, was led by Matt Bell, who tallied a season-high 23 points. Jarell Brown added 18 points for the Black Knights, who remain in sole possession of fourth place in the conference standings.
Lafayette (8-13, 2-4 Patriot League) used a 26-11 second half run to seize control of the game. The Leopards’ burst turned a tight 42-42 game at the 15:23 mark into a 68-53 Leopard advantage with 3:52 to play. A 10-2 Army spurt trimmed Lafayette’s lead to seven points at 70-63 with 1:29 remaining, but the Black Knights could get no closer as the Leopards held on for the eight-point victory.
Army (13-8, 3-3 Patriot League) opened the second half on a 9-5 scoring run to tie the game at 42-42. The spurt was part of a larger 18-9 run that spanned the first and second halves as the Black Knights rallied from a nine-point deficit.
Lafayette responded with an 8-1 spurt, grabbing a 50-43 advantage with 12:30 to play. The Black Knights trimmed the Leopards’ lead to 50-46 moments later, but an 18-7 Lafayette run, capped by a pair of Cummins triples, put the Leopards on top by 15 points at 68-53.
Army jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on a lay-up by Chris Walker and a three-pointer by Bell. Four three-pointers spurred a 14-2 Lafayette spurt that gave the Leopards a 14-7 lead at the 15:44 mark.
The Black Knights fought back with a 7-2 scoring burst to trim Lafayette’s lead to 16-14 at the 12:29 mark. Lafayette regained its seven-point cushion with an 8-3 run, assuming a 24-17 lead with 8:38 to play before halftime.
After the Leopards built their largest lead of the half at 33-24 at the 3:00 mark, Army used a 9-4 run to end the stanza, cutting Lafayette’s lead to 37-33 at the break.
Bell led Army in the first half with 11 points, while Cory Sinning added eight. Bell and Sinning, who totaled 19 of the Black Knights’ 19 first half points, combined to shoot 7-of-8 from the floor in the opening stanza, including 5-of-6 from three-point range.
As a team, Army knocked down 60.9 percent of their first half field goal attempts, including 5-of-10 from three-point range.
Lafayette hit 54.2 percent of its first half field goals, including 7-of-13 from “downtown”. Paul Cummins led the Leopards with 11 first half points, while Bilal Abdullah added eight and Brown chipped in seven.
The four-point halftime difference came down to the free throw line. Lafayette connected on 4-of-7 attempts from the charity stripe, while Army did not attempt a single free throw.
Lafayette shot 56.1 percent from the floor for the game, while Army shot 48.3 percent from the field. The Leopards outrebounded the Black Knights, 31-23.
Army completes its two-game road swing on Saturday, Jan. 27, when the Black Knights travel to Lewisburg, Pa., to tangle with two-time defending Patriot League champion Bucknell. Tip off from Sojka Pavilion is set for 7 p.m.