Army 76, Navy 71
WEST POINT, N.Y. Juniors Cleveland Richard and Josh Miller scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, to lead the Army men’s basketball team to a 76-71 win over arch-rival Navy in front of more than 4,000 fans at Christl Arena on Sunday afternoon. The victory snapped the Black Knights’ four-game losing streak and was their first conference win of the season.
The win guaranteed Army (5-13, 1-3) at least a season split with the Midshipmen (14-6, 3-2) for the sixth straight season. The two teams have alternated victories in the series in each of the last 11 games.
"Our kids did a good job. We sustained things for 40 minutes," Army head coach Jim Crews siad. "Navy is a good team and puts points on the board. They score points in a bunch so you’re always concerned about that. Our guys did a good job of getting to the line, understanding angles and being on balance on their drives."
Army ended its four-game shooting slump by hitting a season-high 65.0 percent from the field (26-40). During the Black Knights losing streak, they shot just 32.7 percent. The Black Knights shot 60.0 percent in the first half and 70.0 percent after halftime. Army’s 76 points were a season high and the most since going for 78 against Brown last January.
The Black Knights defense limited the Midshipmen to just 31.1 percent from the field (19-61) and a 25.9 percent showing from three-point range (7-27). The Mids stayed in the game by connecting on 26 of 31 free throws. Army also attempted a season-high 31 free throws, hitting 20.
"We did it on defense," Richard said. "The first half we were swarming to the ball, and we just tried to keep it up in the second half. We just kept the energy and kept trying to go."
Ten of the twelve Army players that saw action scored at least one point. Junior Jon Sizemore scored a career-best eight points on 4 of 6 shooting in 23 minutes of work. The Gwinnett, Ga., native had played a total of five minutes in seven games this season and had not scored a point until Sunday. Freshman Julian Simmons added nine points, all on three-pointers in the first half. Miller paced the Black Knights with five rebounds, while junior Marcus Nelson dished out four assists and blocked two shots.
"We have confidence in ourselves, and we have confidence in our teammates," Miller said. "We know that if we kick to whomever, that they are going to make the right play and the right decision. That was great getting off to a great start early on, but it was the defensive effort that really got us going. We started our offense with our defense.”
Adam Teague led Navy with 16 points, including five three-pointers. Clif Colbert and Jordan Sugars rounded out the Mids top scorers with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Navy’s Kaleo Kina and Chris Harris entered the game ranked first (18.7) and third (16.0) in the Patriot League in scoring, but were limited to a combined 11 points. Kina scored nine markers on 2 of 12 from the floor, while Harris went 0 for 6 from the field and scored two points on free throws.
The Black Knights led by as many as 17 in the second half and had to withstand a furious Navy run that pulled the Mids within four points on two occasions. Army was 9 for 14 from the foul line in the final 1:07 to hang on for the win.
Navy jumped out to a 5-1 lead after a three-pointer by Teague one-minute, 44 seconds into the game. Army scored the next four points to tie the game, but Teague’s second straight triple pushed Navy back in front. The Mids led 10-7 with 15:48 to go when junior Chris Walker’s jumper started a 20-6 run that propelled the Black Knights to a 27-16 advantage with 5:45 left in the half. Army made four three-pointers during the spurt, including all three of Simmons’ triples.
Navy scored its final eight points from the foul line and were able to trim the Black Knights’ lead to 33-26 at intermission.
Kina got the Mids off to a fast start in the second half with a three-pointer on the opening possession. The Black Knights responded with an 8-1 run to reclaim a double-digit lead at 41-30 with 15:37 left, but Navy came right back to cut its deficit to six points with a 7-2 run. Army led 45-39 with 13:41 to go before using a 13-2 run to open up a 17-point lead with 7:56 to go. Richard scored six of his 17 points during the run.
Navy began to chip away at the lead from the foul line. While the Black Knights went scoreless for a three-minute, 38-second stretch, the Mids went 8 for 8 from the stripe to get back within nine points at 58-49 with 4:47 left. Miller scored four straight points to push the Black Knights back in front by 13, but the Midshipmen started to heat up from long range. Colbert and Teague hit three-pointers during an 8-1 Navy run that made it 63-57 with 2:57 left.
Army reclaimed another double-digit lead after sophomore Rickey Royal hit four straight fouls shots with 51 seconds left. The Mids had one more run left, scoring eight of the next 10 points, including two three-pointers by Teague, to pull within four points with 29 seconds left. Senior Kenny Brewer, Nelson and sophomore Jeremy Hence each made one of two foul shots in the final 30 seconds to keep the Mids at bay and give the Black Knights the five-point win.
The last seven meetings in the series have been decided by eight points or less. The victory also snapped Army’s 18-game losing streak when allowing 70-or-more points.
The Black Knights will attempt to win two in a row for the first time this season on Wednesday, Jan. 28 when they host Lafayette at 7 p.m. Army split the season series with the Leopards last season with each team winning on its home floor.
Game Notes: Army used its ninth starting lineup of the season ... Tyrell Thompson started his second straight game, but Josh Miller replaced John Moonshower ... Jon Sizemore had not played in the previous seven games ... Sizemore returned to play significant minutes after having his two front teeth knocked out in the first half ... Marcus Nelson’s two blocked shots moved him into a tie for seventh on Army’s single-season list (17) ... The Mids held a 33-29 edge on the glass, marking the eighth straight game Army has been outrebounded ... Miller has now scored in double figures in the last three games versus Navy. He is averaging 13.0 points per game in those games ... Army has lost the last six games following a win against Navy, including the last three years versus Lafayette ... The Black Knights have now won their last three Patriot League games televised by ESPNU.