Army Wins Triple-OT Thriller Over Lehigh

Army 82, Lehigh 75 (OT)

WEST POINT, N.Y.  John Moonshower celebrated Army’s senior day with 10 points, all in the overtime sessions, to lead the Army men’s basketball team (8-16, 4-6) to an 82-75, triple-overtime victory over Lehigh (14-10, 4-6) at Christl Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Black Knights have now won four straight home games and six of their last eight Patriot League contests at West Point.

Moonshower was 4 for 6 from the floor, including two three-pointers. His first basket of the game was a three-pointer in the first extra session that tied the game at 61-61. Moonshower had not scored since the Holy Cross game on Jan. 14 and had not made a three-pointer since the Florida Gulf Coast game on Dec. 30. It was his highest scoring output since an 11-poing night at Bryant on Dec. 8.

"Every night we go out there, Coach says you have to play for 40 minutes, sometimes more," Moonshower said. "We played for 55 tonight. We try to go out and win each four-minute period with the media timeouts. It hasn't been working out for us lately, but we came through tonight and got a big one."

Two other players scored in double figures for the Black Knights. Junior F Cleveland Richard scored a team-high 17 points and junior G Josh Miller just missed his first career double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. He added seven assists in a career-high 45 minutes of work. It was his third straight double-digit scoring game. Senior C Doug Williams scored two points and snared a season-best nine rebounds.

Junior G Marcus Nelson scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds, handed out three assists and made two steals. He became the first player in Army history to record 200 career assists, 100 career steals and 40 career blocked shots.

Marquis Hall led all players with 25 points, including four three-pointers before fouling out in the second overtime. Carrington also picked up his fifth foul in the second extra period, but not before he posted his Patriot League-leading eighth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 boards. Dave Buchberger also had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

"That was neat because of the seniors," head coach Jim Crews said. "A kid like John Moonshower is just a great story. That's something he is going to remember for the rest of his life. That's what makes it special. We played some good basketball. The first half seemed like we were a little sluggish, but we picked it up in the second half."

The Army defense forced Lehigh into 28 turnovers and scored 28 points off the miscues. The Black Knights limited the Mountain Hawks to just 34.9 percent shooting to help offset a 49-39 rebounding disadvantage.

Army overcame an eight-point deficit in the second overtime by outscoring the Mountain Hawks 10-2 in the final two minutes, 31 seconds. Moonshower scored five points during the spurt, including a three-pointer that cut the deficit from six points to three-points with 1:52 to go. Army’s full-court pressure forced its second straight turnover and Richard hit a pair of foul shots to cut the Black Knights’ deficit to 71-70 with 1:34 to go. After the teams exchanged turnovers, Hall made one of two free throws to push the Lehigh lead to two points. The miss snapped a string of 19 straight foul shots by Mountain Hawks. Army was called for an offensive foul with 42.1 seconds left, but Hall picked up an offensive foul on the ensuing inbounds play, ending his night. Carrington quickly followed with his fifth foul, and sophomore F Jeremy Hence hit one of two free throws to bring the Black Knights back within one point. Richard was whistled for a foul while fighting for the rebound, but Lehigh's Jordan Hamilton missed both free throw attempts. Phil Anderson was called for an over-the-back foul on the second shot, but Moonshower missed both free throws on the other end, and the Black Knights sent Hamilton to the line again. He made one of two to make the score 73-71. Army called timeout with 13.4 seconds to go and Miller drove the lane, hitting the tying basket with 7.4 seconds remaining. Lehigh’s last-ditch shot was off the mark, sending the game into a third overtime.

"We did a heck of a job getting back into the game," Crews said. "The kids did a good job pressing, and Moon (Moonshower) hit some big threes. There were a lot of big plays defensively."

Playing without their two top scorers, the Mountain Hawks struggled to generate offense on their first possessions of the third overtime. Moonshower’s jumper put Army ahead for good at 75-73, and a Richard run out from Miller extended Army’s lead to four points just one minute in to the period. Neither team scored for the next two minutes until Buchberger hit two free throws with 2:02 left to pull Lehigh back within two points at 77-75. Army was able to push the lead to four points at the foul line while holding the Mountain Hawks without a field goal for the entire five-minute period. Army got loose on a breakway, and senior F Kenny Brewer rammed home a dunk while being fouled with 0.3 seconds to play. He hit his free throw to provide the seven-point margin of victory.

Lehigh pulled off the last-minute comeback to force overtime. Trailing by one at the start of the second half, Carrington hit two free throws on Lehigh’s first possession to put the Mountain Hawks back up by one, but Richard came right back with two foul shots to regain a one-point advantage for the Black Knights. Hence made one of two free throws to push the lead to 32-30 with 17:46 left, but Hall’s  two free throws tied the game at 32-32 with 16:36 left. Miller found a cutting Richard for a layup with 16:14 left for the first field goal of the half to give Army a 34-32 advantage. The Houston native made it five straight points with his first three-pointer of the game to give Army its largest lead to that point at 37-32 with 15:10 left.

The Mountain Hawks turned the tide with an11-0 run to take a 43-37 lead. Richard snapped the Black Knights’ 0 for 7 shooting slump with his second triple of the game to pull Army within three at 43-40 with 8:32 left. Richard’s three-pointer started a 14-3 Army run. Army took a 48-46 lead on a Hedgecock three-pointer and Nelson converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 4:13 left to push Army’s lead back to five points at 51-46.

Carrington put back his own miss to trim the lead to three points, and Hall drilled two free throws to make it 51-50 with 2:18 left. The score remained the same until Carrington missed a 15-foorter and Miller secured the rebound with 33.3 seconds left. He was immediately fouled and knocked both foul shots to extend Army’s lead to three points.  The Mountain Hawks missed a game-tying attempt, but were able to secure the offensive rebound. Buchberger stroked a three-pointer with 11.5 seconds left to tie the game at 53-53. Miller’s runner in the lane was off the mark, and the clock expired sending the game into overtime.

Army held the Mountain Hawks on the first possession of the extra session, and Richard stroked his career-high tying third three-pointer to give the Black Knights a 56-53 lead. Lehigh scored the next four points to re-take the lead with 3:22 left, but Hence stroked jumper to give Army back a one-point lead. The game continued to see saw back-and-forth with Hall putting Lehigh back in front by a point on its next possession. Army came up empty on its next two possessions, and Hall again came up big with a turnaround jumper on baseline to make it 61-58 with 1:03 left.
Moonshower started his heroic stretch with a three-pointer to tie the game at 61-61 with 45 seconds left. A foul was whistled on Army and Buchberger hit two free throws with 31.3 left to push Lehigh’s advantage to 63-6. Army’s Miller was fouled and he made both free throws to tie at 63-63 with 18.6 seconds left. On Lehigh’s final possession of the period, Hall drove the lane but missed and Richard secured rebound to force the second overtime.

The first 13 minutes of the game featured four ties and five lead changes, with neither team holding a lead larger than three points. Lehigh led 5-2 before Miller knocked down Army’s first triple of the game to knot the score with 15:40 left. The two teams traded buckets before the Mountain Hawks hit their second three-pointer to lead 10-7 with 12:49 to go. Junior C Chris Walker scored five points during the Black Knights’ 7-2 run that gave them their first lead of the game at 14-12 with 10:54 to go. Walker’s three-point play provided the go-ahead points.

Buchberger’s three-point play re-established a one-point lead for Lehigh, but sophomore G Nathan Hedgcock’s three-pointer put Army back in front. Army led by one when Hall hit a long three-pointer to put the Mountain Hawks ahead 22-19 with 5:36 left in the half.  The bucket started an 8-0 Lehigh run that staked the Mountain Hawks to a 26-19 advantage 5:04 to go. Hall’s second three-pointer capped the spurt.

Army responded with a 10-2 run to reclaim a 29-28 lead 33 seconds left on a putback by Williams. Brewer scored all five of his first-half points during the run. Hall’s last-second attempt was off the mark and Army went into the locker room up one point.

Walker led the Black Knights with seven points in the first 20 minutes. Hall was the Mountain Hawks’ top first-half scorer with eight points, including a pair of triples.

Army improved to 1-1 this season in overtime games, and has won three of their last four games decided beyond regulation. According to available archives, Saturday’s game marked Army’s first foray into triple overtime.

The victory forced a fifth-place tie between Army and Lehigh at 4-6 in the Patriot League with four games left on the schedule. The two teams split the season series. The victory stopped a four-game regular-season losing streak against the Mountain Hawks.

Army has one more home game remaining on the schedule. League-leading American comes to Christl Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. The Eagles scored a win in Washington, D.C., in the first meeting of the season.

Game Notes: The Black Knights’ four seniors Kenny Brewer, Curtis Koszuta, John Moonshower and Doug Williams were honored before the game for their hard work and dedication to the West Point basketball program over the past four years ... Army played without freshman G Julian Simmons who missed the game while tending to a family matter ... Army used its 11th starting lineup of the season. Kenny Brewer and Doug Williams were in the first unit together for the first time this season ... Jeremy Hence’s three-pointer in the first half was his first since Dec. 30 at Florida Gulf Coast ... Chris Walker’s seven first-half points were the most he had scored in a single game since posting 10 points at Brown on Nov. 26 ... Army has now won four Patriot League games in three straight seasons for the first time since the conference’s formation ... Army has been ahead at halftime in all eight of its wins ... Cleveland Richard has scored in double figures in three straight games and seven of his last eight ... Josh Miller has reached double figures in three straight outings as well.

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