Final Statistics: American 57, Army 54
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Army rallied from a 17-point first-half deficit to tie the game at 48-48 with 4:02 left, but American scored nine of the final 15 points to take a 57-54 victory in Patriot League men’s basketball action at Bender Arena on Wednesday night. Cleveland Richard had a chance to tie the game, but his three-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out to seal the Eagles’ victory.
It was the second straight game in which Army trailed by double digits in the first half. The loss was Army’s (13-12, 3-8) third straight overall, fifth straight on the road and 11th straight at American (8-18, 5-6).
The Black Knights trailed 25-8 with eight minutes to go in the first half, but rallied back to go into the locker room down 12 at 31-19. Army outscored the Eagles 29-17 in the first 16 minutes of the second period to tie the game, but never took the lead. Down by four, junior G Nathan Hedgecock banked in a three-pointer to pull the Black Knights within one at 55-54 with 14.9 seconds left. Army nearly forced a held ball that would have given the Black Knights possession, but American was able to call a timeout with eight seconds left. After two free throws by Nick Hendra made it a 57-54 game with five seconds left, Richard took the inbounds pass and drove to the top of the key. His 21-footer went in-and-out at the horn.
Senior G Tyrell Thompson led the Black Knights with 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Richard and junior F Jeremy Hence each added 11 points. Thompson and senior G Josh Miller each had five rebounds, while Richard handed out a team-high four assists.
Vlad Moldoveanu led all scorers with 18 points, including four three-pointers. His final triple broke the 48-48 deadlock and gave the Eagles the lead for good with 3:02 remaining. Joe Hill scored 12 points on four three-pointers, while Stephen Lumpkins and Nick Hendra chipped in with 11 and 10, respectively. Lumpkins completed a double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds.
Army shot 43.3 percent in the second half to salvage a 41.2 percent shooting night. The Eagles finished the game at 45.5 percent, including 10 for 21 from three-point range (.476). Moldoveanu, Hendra and Hill combined to shoot 10 for 19 from deep. The Eagles also held a 35-21 rebounding edge.
The Black Knights committed just nine turnovers and was able to turn 17 American miscues into 24 points.
Army was once again plagued by a slow start. The Black Knights scored first, but the Eagles scored the next four points. Army closed to 4-3 on a free throw by Richard, but the Black Knights went the next five minutes, 30 seconds without a field goal. The defense kept Army close at 7-5, but American used an 18-3 run to open up a 25-8 lead, its largest of the half, with eight minutes to go. Moldoveanu scored 10 points, including two three-pointers during the run.
Junior G Mitch McDonald ended the Eagles’ run with a jumper that stopped a three-minute, 51-second stretch without a field goal for the Black Knights. The basket started an 8-3 Army run that cut the deficit to 12 points. A jumper by senior F Eric Zastoupil made the score 28-16 with 2:57 left, but Hill’s second three-pointer of the half pushed the Eagles’ margin back 15 points with 1:45 to go. Army answered with its first three-pointer of the half, a shot from the left baseline by Hence with 15 seconds left. Hence’s shot snapped an 0-for-4 start from long range. American’s last-second shot attempt was off the mark and the Eagles ended the first half on top, 31-19.
Thompson paced the Black Knights with six first-half points, while Moldoveanu led all scorers with 12 in the first 20 minutes. Army shot just 8 for 21 (.381), while the Eagles connected on 48.0 percent (12-25), including a 6-for-10 showing from beyond the arc.
Richard came out firing in the second half with back-to-back three-pointers as part of a 13-4 run that got Army back to within three points at 35-32 with 14:51 to go. The Eagles re-opened a seven point advantage with six of the next eight points, but the Black Knights responded with a 14-7 spurt to knot the game at 48-48. Hence had a chance to give Army its first lead since 2-0, but missed the foul shot while attempting to complete a three-point play.
American scored the next five points, but three free throws by Thompson cut the Eagles lead to 53-51 with 52.1 seconds left. Lumpkins was able to convert a layup as the Eagles beat Army pressure to re-establish a four-point lead before Hedgecock’s three-pointer with 14.9 seconds left made it a one-point game, setting up the dramatic final eight seconds.
The Black Knights finished the road portion of their league schedule at 1-6 with the line victory coming at Holy Cross.
Army hosts its arch-rival Navy in the annual “Star” game on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. The game will be televised live from Christl Arena by CBS College Sports Network. The Mids won the first meeting this season, 62-56, in Annapolis.
Game Notes: Head coach Zach Spiker shook up the starting lineup, using Mitch McDonald, Tyrell Thompson and Jeremy Hence to go along with Cleveland Richard and Chris Walker … Richard and Walker are the only two Black Knights to start all 25 games … the loss clinched a losing record in league play … the Black Knights have never finished better than 6-8 since joining the Patriot League … Josh Miller made two steals to stretch his Academy record to 146 … Julian Simmons battled an illness on Sunday and Monday, playing only three minutes and not attempting a shot … Army was 7 for 14 from the free throw line … after the three double-digit scorers Army’s next highest scorer was Josh Miller with four … the loss was just the second this season when allowing less than 60 points (12-2) … Army has outscored its opponents by 15 points in the second half of the last two games … Army has not won at American since they joined the league in 2001-02 … the Black Knights cannot sweep a league opponent this season … Army’s last three opponents – Navy, Lafayette and Bucknell – all won the first meeting of the season.