American 58, Army 36
WEST POINT, N.Y. American ended Army’s four-game winning streak at Christl Arena with a 58-36 victory over the Black Knights in Patriot League men’s basketball action on Wednesday night. The Eagles (18-7, 10-1) maintained their first-place position in the Patriot League with their seventh consecutive win, while Army (8-17, 4-7) suffered its first home loss since mid-January.
One game after scoring a season-high 82 points in its triple-overtime win over Lehigh, Army’s offense mustered just 36 points, tying its second-lowest output of the season. The Black Knights’ lowest scoring game of the season also came versus the Eagles in a 58-34 loss on Feb. 4.
Junior G Josh Miller led the Black Knights with seven points, the lowest top-scoring game by an Army player since the Presbyterian game on Dec. 1. It was the fifth time this season the Black Knights did not have a double-digit scorer. Sophomore Nathan Hedgecock and Jeremy Hence tied for the team rebounding lead with four each.
The backcourt tandem of Derrick Mercer and Garrison Carr led the Eagles with 17 and 13 points, respectively. The duo combined to go 7 for 11 from three-point range. Carr, the Patriot League’s top three-point threat with 3.12 triples per game, was 4 for 8 from deep, while Mercer hit all three his long-range attempts. Frank Borden pulled down a game-high seven rebounds to help the Eagles to a 37-25 rebounding edge.
Army shot 27.1 percent for the game, its worst performance from the floor this season. The Black Knights were just 3 of 13 from three-point range. The Eagles hit 49.0 percent of their shots (24-49), including an 8 for 18 (.444) night from beyond the arc.
American never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 3-0 lead on Carr’s first three-pointer one minute, 29 seconds into the first half. After a free throw by Nelson made it 3-1, Carr completed a four-point play to push the Eagles’ advantage to six points with 17 minutes left. The basket started a 9-1 American run that gave the Eagles a 12-2 lead.
Army missed its first five shots from the field, not hitting its first basket until a three-pointer by Miller at the 14:17 mark. Miller’s triple was part of an 8-2 run that was capped by a three-point play by senior C Doug Williams to pull the Black Knights within four at 14-10 with 10:33 left in the half.
Nick Hendra turned the momentum back toward the Eagles with five straight points to push the lead back to 19-10 with 9:05 to go. Hendra’s points were the first of a 19-2 American spurt that gave the Eagles a 33-12 advantage with 2:20 remaining in the half.
Senior F Kenny Brewer ended Army’s nine-minute, 13-second scoring drought with a basket to pull Army back within 19 points at 33-14 with 1:24 left. The Black Knights missed all six of their field goal tries during the dry spell. Neither team scored for the remainder of the half.
The Black Knights struggled from the field in the first 20 minutes, hitting only 5 of 22 attempts (.227), while the Eagles shot 59.1 percent from the floor (13-22), including 75.0 percent from three-point range (6-8). Carr led all scorers with 13 first-half points, four more than he scored versus the Black Knights in the first meeting of the season.
Army opened the half with eight of the first 12 points to cut the lead to 35-20 on a fastbreak layup by Nelson with 17:46 to go, but the Eagles quickly re-established a 19-point lead with back-to-back baskets. After a three-pointer by Richard cut into the Army deficit, Brian Gilmore went to work for the Eagles, scoring four straight points to push American back in front by 20 points.
Williams’ second three-point play of the game made it 43-26 with 14:51 left, but the Eagles scored the next five points to take a 22-point advantage with 13:55 remaining. American maintained a 20-point margin for the remainder of the game, leading by as many as 25.
The Eagles have now won six straight games versus the Black Knights.
Army begins its season-ending stretch of three consecutive road games on Saturday at Navy. The game will be televised live from Alumni Hall on certain CBS affiliates beginning at 1 p.m. The Black Knights won the first meeting of the season with the Mids, 76-71.
Game Notes: Army used a different starting lineup than its previous game for the fourth straight outing. Nathan Hedgecock was back with the first unit after not starting the Lehigh game ... Army’s 14 points in the first half marked its lowest scoring half of the season and its lowest offensive output in a half since scoring 14 points at American on Feb. 20, 2008. It was the fifth time in the last seven halves of play versus the Eagles that Army scored 20-or-fewer points ... It was the second straight game versus the Eagles that no Army player scored in double figures ... Wednesday was the last home game of the season for seniors Kenny Brewer, Curtis Koszuta, John Moonshower and Doug Williams.