WEST POINT, N.Y. - Long Island used a 20-10 run over the final 7:44 to break open a 44-44 tie and spoil the Army men’s basketball team’s home opener on Friday, Nov. 16 at Christl Arena. The Black Knights are now 1-2 on the season, while the Blackbirds evened their record at 1-1.
The Blackbirds game-ending run came on the heels of a 14-1 Black Knights’ spurt that brought Army back from a 43-30 deficit in the second half. Army whittled the lead down to six points, before junior F Kenny Brewer took over with back-to-back three-point plays. His thunderous dunk off the break and subsequent free throw narrowed the margin to 44-41 with 8:03 to go. Brewer followed that with another layup while being fouled, and the old-fashioned three-point play knotted the game at 44-44 with 7:44 to go. Both teams had a chance to take the lead, but each squad missed a pair of foul shots. LIU’s Eugene Kotorobai hit his fifth three-pointer of the game with 6:05 left to give the Blackbirds back the lead and start the deciding run. Army went cold from the field, missing nine of its final 14 shots, while LIU hit four of its eight shots from the floor and scored 11 of its final 15 points from the charity stripe. The Blackbirds hit 10 of 12 free throws in the final two minutes to seal the victory.
Sophomore G Josh Miller posted career-high totals of 14 points and seven rebounds to lead the Black Knights. He also handed out a career-best five assists for the second straight game. Brewer tallied his second straight career high with 14 points, all of which came in the second half. Junior F John Moonshower matched his career best with nine points off the bench.
Jaytornah Wisseh led the Blackbirds with a game-high 16 points, 11 of which came during the final 3:03, and eight rebounds. Kotorobai finished with 15 points on five three-pointers. Kyle Johnson and David Hicks rounded out LIU’s double-digit scorers with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The Blackbirds outrebounded the Black Knights, 41-36, including a 16-11 margin on the offensive end. Army put up 30 points in the paint, but was on the short end of an 8-point differential in second-chance tallies (15-7). Both teams struggled from the field throughout the game. Army finished the game at 38.2 percent from the floor (21-55) and 15.4 percent from three-point range (2-13). The Blackbirds shot 32.7 percent overall (18-55), but were connected on 40 percent of its three-pointers (10-25).
Both teams got off to slow starts offensively. The Blackbirds opened the scoring with a three-pointer, but Miller came right back to tie the game with a triple of his own at the 17:28 mark. Miller’s bucket was the only make in Army’s first seven shot attempts. Sophomore G Tyrell Thompson broke the deadlock with steal and layup to give the Black Knights their first lead of the contest, and he stretched the margin to 7-3 with a jumper with 14:22 left. LIU roared back with a 20-4 spurt to take a 23-11 lead with 8:08 left in the half. Kotorobai led the Blackbirds with three three-pointers during the run. Army whittled the lead down to eight points on back-to-back buckets by sophomore C Chris Walker, but LIU was quickly able to regain a 13-point advantage. Army again got the deficit under double figures on seven straight points from Moonshower, but Long Island was able to take a 10-point lead into the locker room at 32-22.
After opening with two games away from West Point, the Black Knights take to the road again to take on intrastate rival Cornell on Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Long Island scored the initial basket of the game, marking the first time this season Army did not score first ... Sophomore C Chris Walker missed his first field goal attempt of the season after hitting his first four through two games ... Freshman G Rickey Royal entered the game in the first half, marking the first time an Army freshman played in the first half this season ... Junior F Kenny Brewer’s 14 points marked the first time in his career that he scored in double figures in consecutive games ... Army scored all eight of the game’s fast break points ... The Black Knights’ bench outscored LIU, 29-19 ... Army lost its home opener for the first time since 2004-05 ... After averaging 22.5 turnovers per game in the first two games, the Black Knights committed only 14 against LIU.