BETHLEHEM, Pa. For the second straight game, the Black Knights made a furious comeback attempt from a double-digit deficit, but again fell just short in a 58-53 loss at Lehigh in Patriot League men’s basketball action on Saturday, Feb. 16. The loss dropped Army to 11-13 overall and 4-6 in league play, while the Mountain Hawks improved their record to 12-12 and 5-5 in conference action.
Army trailed by seven at halftime, 34-27, but the Mountain Hawks scored the first nine points of the second half, all by Zahir Carrington, to take a 43-27 advantage with 16:02 left in the game. The Black Knights then mounted a rally, outscoring the Mountain Hawks 24-9 during the next 14 minutes of action. A jumper by sophomore Cleveland Richard cut the deficit to 52-51 with 2:24 left, and Army had two possessions to take the lead, but couldn’t capitalize. The Black Knights went without a field goal in the final 2:28 while Lehigh scored six of the game’s final eight points, including four straight free throws by Bryan White with less than 30 seconds remaining. White’s first two foul came with his team ahead, 54-52, and made it a two possession game. Richard was fouled, but made just one of two free throws before White hit both his attempts with 6.6 seconds left to set the final score.
Senior G Jarell Brown led Army with 19 points. He also had three rebounds, two assists and one steal in 37 minutes. Richard just missed his career high with 14 points and added four rebounds, two assists and four of Army’s eight steals. Sophomore G Josh Miller was the third Black Knight in double figures with 11 markers. He paced Army with seven rebounds and contributed a pair of steals.
Carrington was the Mountain Hawks’ top scorer with 19, 11 of which came in the second half. Marquis Hall scored 12 of his 15 points before halftime on four three-pointers. In addition to his key foul shots, White led Lehigh with seven boards.
Both teams struggled from the field with Army shooting just 39.6 percent for the game, making only one of its eight three-point attempts. The Black Knights defense limited the Mountain Hawks to just 37.0 percent from the floor, including a 28.6 mark in the second half. For the second straight game, foul shooting was a major factor. Lehigh was 19 for 28 in the game, including 12 of 18 after halftime, while Army was 10 of 16, making just seven of its 12 second-half attempts.
Army outrebounded Lehigh, 32-31. The Black Knights owned the edge on the glass in both games against the Mountain Hawks, marking the only two times this season that they have lost a game in which they outrebounded their opponent.
Hall got the Lehigh offense started off the bat with the first of his four first-half three-pointers to put the Mountain Hawks ahead, 3-0. Army scored the next two buckets to take a 4-3 lead, but that would be the Black Knights’ only advantage of the game as Hall hit his second triple to put Lehigh ahead, 6-4. Trailing by three, Brown completed an old-fashioned three-point play to knot the score at 9-9 with 12:41 left, but the Mountain Hawks went on a 12-4 run to take a 21-13 lead with 7:16 left in the half. Army whittled the lead down to six, but Hall capped a 5-0 Lehigh run with a pull-up three on the break to give the Mountain Hawks their largest lead of the half at 26-17.
Army clawed back into the game with a 9-2 spurt of its own. Jon Sizemore ignited the rally with a three-point play and back-to-back buckets by Brown and Chris Walker pulled the Black Knights within two points at 28-26 with 2:10 to go. Lehigh quickly regained control, finishing the half on a 6-1 run to take a seven-point advantage. Phil Anderson’s layup at the buzzer sent the Mountain Hawks into the locker room with a 34-27 lead.
Brown led the Black Knights with 11 first-half points on 5 of 9 from the floor. Hall led all scorers with 12 points. Army recovered from a 3 for 10 start to shoot 12 of 27 for the half (44.5 percent). The Mountain Hawks hit 44.0 percent overall, but were 5 of 11 from three-point range. Lehigh was able to score 11 points off eight Army turnovers before halftime.
The loss gave Lehigh a regular-season sweep over Army. The Mountain Hawks are the only team this season to beat the Black Knights twice.
Army plays its final regular-season road game on Wednesday when it travels to Washington, D.C. to face Patriot League-leader American. Tip-off at Bender Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.
Game Notes: Army still has yet to use the same starting lineup for more than three straight games ... Brown, Richard, Miller, Corban Bates and Doug Williams got the call at Lehigh, the first time that lineup has been used since the first Colgate game ... Army is now 7-4 in games decided by five points or less ... In the last two games, the Black Knights have been outscored at the foul line 40-13 and have lost the two games by a total of 16 points ... The loss was Army’s first when Richard has scored in double figures this season (2-1) ... All three games have been on the road ... Ryan Hodgson made his first appearance since the season-opener at Minnesota.