Army 63, Dartmouth 48
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Sophomore G Nathan Hedgecock poured in a career-best 15 points to lead the Army men’s basketball team to a 63-48 victory versus Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon at Christl Arena in the season opener for both teams. Hedgecock was one of 12 players to score for the Black Knights.
Making his first career start, the El Paso, Texas, native hit 6 of 11 shots from the floor, including 3 of 5 from long range. He also chipped in two rebounds and a steal in a career-high 18 minutes.
“It was a team effort. We did some really good things as a team, and it feels great,” Hedgecock said. “The beauty of this offense with all the movement and cutting is that it allows multiple people to get open. It gave us the opportunity to have the plethora of players score that you saw today.”
Junior F Cleveland Richard joined Hedgecock in double figures with 11. Freshman G Julian Simmons made his collegiate debut with eight points, including a pair of triples, and junior G Marcus Nelson totaled six points and a team-high seven rebounds. Sophomore G Rickey Royal was Army’s top playmaker with a career-best four assists. Every Black Knight that played at least five minutes hit a field goal.
“We got off to a good start,” Army head coach Jim Crews said. “We were able to get some buckets off are defense and got down the floor pretty well. We didn’t finish inside as well as we need to. Overall, for a first game, I was pleased.”
Alex Barnett led three Big Green players in double figures with 18. Jabari Trotter added 15 points, including three three-pointers, and Elgin Fitzgerald scored 11 markers while pulling down a team-high six boards.
The Black Knights’ defense forced 21 turnovers and scored 21 points off the Big Green miscues. Army’s transition game also played a key role, posting 15 fast break points. The Black Knights outrebounded Dartmouth, 41-33 and held a 17-7 edge on the offensive glass. Army outscored the Big Green, 12-1, in second-chance points.
For only the third time in the last two seasons, Army did not trail in the game. The Black Knights jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the games first two minutes thanks to a layup by junior C Chris Walker, a three-pointer by junior G Josh Miller and a fast-break lay in by Hedgecock. The Big Green fought back to knot the score at 11-11when Trotter drilled a three-pointer with 12:44 to go.
The Black Knights took control of the game from that point, going on a 17-6 run during the next nine minutes. Simmons put the exclamation point on the spurt with a three-pointer from the left wing off a feed from Miller on one of the Army’s several running opportunities. The Big Green cut the lead to nine points twice, but Army was able to take a double-digit lead into the locker room at 35-25.
Army scored the first eight points of the second half, all from inside the paint, to take a 43-25 advantage with 16:59 left in the game. The Black Knights led by at least 15 points for the remainder of the game, stretching their margin to as many as 21 on two occasions. Hedgecock scored eight points after halftime including a pair of three pointers that squashed any potential comeback by the Big Green.
The Black Knights won their season opener for just the second time in five years, and have now won two straight versus the Big Green. The two squads will face each other again in New Hampshire on Jan. 3.
Army gets just one day of rest before its next game, its first road tilt of the season at Quinnipiac on Monday, Nov. 17. Tip-off in Hamden, Conn. is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Army is now 15-9 in its 24 season openers at Christl Arena ... Dating back to last season, Cleveland Richard has reached double figures in four straight games. Army is now 5-2 in the last two seasons when the Houston, Texas, native scores at least 10 points ... The Black Knights have now won three straight at home and eight of their last 15 games at West Point ... The 15-point win marked only the fifth time in the last 15 wins that the Black Knights were victorious by at least 10 points ... The returning players shot a combined 19.8 percent from three-point range a year ago, but the Black Knights were 7 of 15 (46.7 percent) from deep against the Big Green ... Army has won eight of its last 10 of its last 15 games when scoring at least 60 points ... Army made 10 steals in the opener. The Black Knights averaged 8.63 swipes per game last year en route to an Academy record 259 steals for the season ... Saturday’s game was the debut of the new courtside seating at Christl Arena. For one price, fans can sit on the floor and have access to an all-you-can-eat hospitality area.