LEWISBURG, Pa. Senior G Jarell Brown scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Army men’s basketball team to its first win at Sojka Pavilion as the Black Knights defeated Bucknell, 68-52, on Sunday afternoon. The win snapped a 15-game overall losing streak to the Bison, a 12-game losing streak at Bucknell and a seven-game skid at the five-year-old facility.
Army improved to 10-11 overall and 3-4 in Patriot League play. The Bison now stand at 9-12 overall and 4-3 in league action.
Brown, who had to leave Wednesday night’s game at Lafayette with a back injury and had not practiced since, played more than 39 minutes. He was 7 of 17 from the floor, including 5 of 14 from three-point range. Brown scored 13 of his points in the second half and added three rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“I haven’t even looked at his stats yet, but that was the guttiest performance I’ve ever seen,” Army head coach Jim Crews said to reporters after the game. “For the condition he was in Wednesday night, I thought there was about a 98 percent chance he wouldn’t play. I kept asking him if he wanted a break, but he told me he wanted to keep going.”
Sophomore Cleveland Richard was the only other Army player in double figures with 11. Richard tied for the team lead with five rebounds, handed out four assists and made three steals. Sophomore Marcus Nelson added nine points and five rebounds, while junior Doug Williams had eight points and four boards. Sophomore Jon Sizemore tallied a career-best seven points, snared two rebounds, dished out two assists, made three steals and accounted for Army’s lone blocked shot. All nine players that saw at least five minutes of action for the Black Knights scored.
John Griffin was the only Bucknell player in double figures with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Stephen Tyree paced the Bison with six rebounds.
The Black Knights trailed by three points at intermission, but outscored the Bison 43-24 in the second half. Army shot a blistering 63.2 percent in the second stanza and ended the game with a 51.2 field goal percentage. Bucknell hit just 33.3 percent of its second half shot attempts and finished the game at 40.0 percent from the floor.
Army forced the Bison into 24 turnovers, including 15 in the second half. The Black Knights scored 30 of their 68 points off Bucknell miscues. The Bison outrebounded Army, 28-24, but the Black Knights outscored them in the paint, 22-14.
After trading baskets to start the game, Griffin hit his first three-pointer of the game to stake the Bison to a 5-2 advantage. Army closed within one point, but Tyree completed an old-fashioned three-point play to push the Bucknell lead to four points. Brown responded for the Black Knights with his first three-pointer to cut the lead to 9-7 with 14:16 remaining in the half, but Griffin came right back with a three-pointer off an offensive rebound. Richard continued the run of three-point possessions with a putback basket while being fouled. His free throw made the score 12-10 with 10:14 remaining. Bucknell scored the next four points to take a six-point lead, but the Black Knights went on a 6-0 run, including four points by Williams to knot the score at 16-16 with 6:25 left.
Griffin jumpstarted a 12-5 Bucknell run with a 25-footer as the shot clock expired. The long-range jumper began a stretch of four straight three-pointers for the Bison that game them their largest lead of the half at 28-21. Army scored the final four points of the half on a stick-back bucket by Sizemore and a jumper by Brown. The Bison appeared to have the last shot, but Sizemore blocked the attempt to start an Army fastbreak. Brown found Josh Miller on the right wing, but Miller could not get the shot off before the first-half buzzer, sending the Black Knights into the locker room down three points at 28-25.
Brown scored eight points in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers. He was followed closely by Richard’s seven points and Williams’ six points in the first 20 minutes. Griffin led all scorers in the first half with nine points on three three-pointers.
The momentum continued to be on Army’s side in the second half. Neither team could find the basket until Brown hit a three-pointer to tie the game more than three minutes in. The triple spurred a 10-2 Army run that gave the Black Knights a five-point lead with 12:39 left. Brown’s three-pointer with 13:25 left provided Army its first lead of the game at 33-30, and the Black Knights would not trail for the remainder of the contest.
Bucknell would not go away quietly, scoring the next four points to close within 37-36. Sizemore ignited the decisive second-half run with an old-fashioned three-point play at the 10:16 mark that gave Army a 40-36 lead and started a 14-5 spurt over the next six minutes that stretched the Black Knights’ lead to double digits at 51-41. Bucknell got within eight points at 53-45, but Army scored the next six points to claim a 14-point advantage. A Griffin three-pointer pulled the Bison within 11 points, but Army ended the game on a 9-4 run to claim the 16-point win, its largest margin of victory this season. The Black Knights hit 6 of 7 free throws in the final two minutes to thwart any possible comeback attempt.
The win was marked the Black Knights’ school-record third Patriot League road victory of the season. Army’s six overall wins on the road this season are the most since the Mike Krzyzewski-led Cadets won six times on opponents’ home floors in 1978-79.
The Black Knights return home on Saturday, Feb. 9 to host Colgate at 1 p.m. The Raiders won the first meeting in the season series, 50-44, in Hamilton. Army will play five of its final seven regular-season games at Christl Arena.
Game Notes: Both the Army and Bucknell coaching staffs wore sneakers during the game in celebration of Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Weekend ... Bucknell head coach Pat Flannery did not coach Sunday’s game due to health issues suffered on Wednesday in the Bison’s loss to Lehigh ... Army used the starting five of Jarell Brown, Josh Miller, Marcus Nelson, Cleveland Richard and Doug Williams for the first time since the game at VMI ... The win as Army’s first versus Bucknell since Feb. 14, 2001 ... It was Army’s first road win versus the Bison since Jan. 29, 1997 ... The victory marks the first time since the 2000-01 season that the Black Knights defeated perennial league leaders Holy Cross and Bucknell in the same season ... Army has recorded double-digit wins in back-to-back seasons since 1988-89 (12) and 1989-90 (10) ... Army’s 25 wins in the last two seasons are the most since 1984-85 (16) and 1985-86 (9) ... Jarell Brown moved into 11th place on Army’s all-time scoring list with 1,303 points ... After not losing a Patriot League home game since 2003, Bucknell has now lost two straight at Sojka Pavilion ... Lehigh ended the Bison’s 38-game winning streak on Wedensday night.