WEST POINT, N.Y. Jarell Brown scored 21 points as Army cut an 18-point first-half deficit to four in the second half, but Holy Cross was able to leave Christl Arena with a 64-53 victory in Patriot League men’s basketball action on Thursday, Feb. 14.
The loss snapped Army’s two-game winning streak and dropped the Black Knights to 11-12 overall and 4-5 in league play. Holy Cross improved to 13-10 and 4-6 on the season.
Brown’s effort was his career-best 13th 20-point game of the season. Sophomore Josh Miller joined Brown in double figures with 13 points and tied for the team lead with four assists. Sophomore Cleveland Richard added eight points and also dished out four assists. Senior Corban Bates was the Black Knights’ top rebounder with six, including four on the offensive end.
Tim Clifford led the Crusaders with 17 points. Alex Vander Baan and Eric Meister each added 11 points. Colin Cunningham pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.
The Crusaders held a decisive advantage at the foul line, hitting 21 of 26 attempts. Army finished the game 3 of 9 from the stripe. Holy Cross scored 18 of its final 26 points of the game from the free throw line, making 18 of 22 from the line in the second half. The Black Knights missed all three of their fouls shots after halftime.
Holy Cross shot 55.3 percent from the floor for the game, while Army hit 43.4 percent of its field goal attempts. The Crusaders held a 35-19 edge on the glass, but Army stayed in the game by scoring 22 points off 19 Crusaders’ turnovers.
Army took a brief 2-0 lead on a jumper by Brown that just beat the shot clock on Army’s first possession. The Crusaders answered with a three-pointer by Beinert, but Marcus Nelson’s driving basket put the Black Knights up, 4-3. Beinert scored again to put Holy Cross up by a point. The Crusaders did not trail for the remainder of the contest.
Brown scored on a fastbreak layup to pull Army within one at 9-8, but the Crusaders scored the next five points to open a 14-8 advantage. Brown hit his first three-pointer of the contest at the 12:11 mark to cut the deficit to three points, but Army went cold from the floor, missing its next nine field goal attempts as the Crusaders went on an 18-3 run over a span of 10:32 to take a 32-14 lead, its largest of the half.
After suffering the extended cold streak, the Black Knights’ offense heated up in a hurry with the defense serving as a catalyst. Jon Sizemore stopped the drought, scooping up a loose ball as it crossed halfcourt and finishing a fastbreak layup. Miller followed with a steal and a layup, and Army made it seven straight points on a three-pointer by Miller following a Holy Cross turnover. The Crusaders threw it away on their final possession of the half and Richard stuck a jumper from the elbow with less than a second remaining to cap the 9-0 run and send the Black Knights’ into the locker room down nine at 32-23. Army’s first-half ending run took place in a span of 1:38.
Army shot just 37.5 percent in the opening half, while the Crusaders hit 14 of their 18 field goal attempts (77.8). Holy Cross also held a 16-7 advantage on the glass, but turned the ball over 13 times in the first 20 minutes. Brown led all scorers with nine points on 4 of 6 from the floor in the first half. Alex Vander Baan paced the Crusaders with eight points in the opening stanza.
The Black Knights could not keep their momentum after halftime, missing their first three shots as Holy Cross scored the first four points to open a 36-23 lead. Army quickly regained its composure, scoring the next six points to cut the margin to 36-29 on a rainbow jumper in the lane by Miller with 15:45 to go. The Crusaders rallied with another four straight points, but Doug Williams and Miller scored back-to-back baskets to bring Army back within seven points with 12:08 left. After two free throws by Clifford, Brown hit a deep three to trim the Crusaders’ deficit to six points at 42-36. Two more free throws by Clifford ignited a 5-0 Holy Cross run, all from the foul line, to push the lead back to 11 points. The Black Knights again proved resilient with a 7-0 run to draw within four points at 47-43 with 6:58 remaining.
The Crusaders were able to fend off the Black Knights’ comeback attempt one more time, going on a 7-2 run to open up a nine-point margin. Army gave it one last effort, scoring eight of the next 12 points to pull within five points on a Brown jumper, but the Crusaders scored the last six points of the game, including four straight from the free throw line in the final minute, to take the 11-point victory.
While the Black Knights stopped a 13-game losing streak to the Crusaders at the Hart Center in January, they have now lost six straight to Holy Cross at Christl Arena.
Army has just one day of rest before facing the first of two straight road tests. The Black Knights will travel to Lehigh on Saturday, Feb. 16 for a rematch with the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh scored a 57-52 win at Christl Arena on Jan. 20.
Game Notes: Thursday’s game was originally schedule for Wednesday, but was postponed due to a facilities issue at the Holleder Center ... On his first shot since beating Colgate at the buzzer in overtime, Jarell Brown got one off just before the shot clock expired on Army’s first possession to give the Black Knights a 2-0 lead ... Army and Holy Cross have played at least twice every season since 1983-84, but the Black Knights have never defeated the Crusaders twice in the same season ... With Holy Cross’ victory, every team has won at least four games in Patriot League action ... It is only the second time in league history every team has won at least four conference games (1993-94) ... A victory would have tied Army’s longest Patriot League winning streak since joining the league in 1990-91 (3 games) ... Josh Miller’s 13 points represented his best offensive effort since scoring 13 in a win against Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 13.