Army Scores 63-56 Win Over LIU For Spiker's First Victory

Final Statistics: Army 63, LIU 56

Zach Spiker Postgame Quotes

WEST POINT, N.Y.  – Army used an 18-2 second-half run to seize control and hung on for a 63-56 victory over Long Island University in men’s basketball action on Tuesday night at Christl Arena. The game was the first victory for Black Knights’ first-year head coach Zach Spiker and evened the team’s record at 1-1. The Blackbirds fell to 0-2 on the young season.

Sophomore G Julian Simmons led the Black Knights with 15 points off the bench, his second straight double-digit game to start the season. Simmons hit 5-of-8 shots, including 3-of-4 three-point attempts in only 14 minutes of play. Senior guards Josh Miller and Tyrell Thompson also put up double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Senior F Cleveland Richard had his string of games with at least 10 points stopped at six, but still posted nine points, a team-high eight rebounds and a game-high six assists. Junior F Jeremy Hence chipped in with eight points and seven rebounds.

Jaytornah Wisseh led all players with 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including three three-pointers. Kyle Johnson added eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.

The Black Knights rebounded from a poor-shooting first half to hit 56.0 percent (14-25) of their shots after halftime, outscoring the Blackbirds 42-33 to overcome a two-point deficit at intermission. Army shot only 26.5 percent (9-34) in the opening stanza.
Army held a 32-30 rebounding edge, including a 14-8 advantage on the offensive boards. The Black Knights scored 16 second-chance points in the game while holding a 32-16 margin in the paint.

The Army defense limited the Blackbirds to 46.5 percent (20-43) in the game and forced 17 LIU turnovers that led to 20 points for the Black Knights.

Both teams struggled on the offensive end to start the game. The Black Knights missed their first six shots, while the Blackbirds turned the ball over on their first three possessions. Thompson broke the drought with a layup with 17:17 left to give the Black Knights the early 2-0 lead. Army led 4-0 before Arnold Mayorga ended the Blackbirds drought with a three-pointer 4:54 into the game.

A three-pointer by Simmons pushed Army’s lead to 7-3, but the Blackbirds came right back with a 6-0 run to take a 9-7 lead. Army missed all four of its shots during the spurt. Miller ended the run with a three-pointer to put the Black Knights back on top 10-9 with 10:08 left in the half.

LIU came right back with four straight points, but the Black Knights answered with a putback by senior G Marcus Nelson and a breakaway layup by Miller to take a 14-13 lead with 7:33 to go. The Blackbirds briefly took a one-point advantage on their next possession, but Thompson hit Army’s third three-pointer of the half to re-take the lead at 17-15 with 6:52 left in the half.

The see-saw affair continued as LIU countered with six straight points to take a 21-17 lead with 2:56 to go, the seventh lead change of the first half. Senior F Eric Zastoupil stopped the run with a putback basket at the 2:14 mark. The Blackbirds pushed their lead back to four points, but Jeremy Hence scored off an offensive rebound to make it a two-point game with 10.7 seconds left. LIU’s last-second attempt was off the mark and the teams went into the locker room with the Blackbirds ahead 23-21.

LIU scored the first basket of second half to re-establish a four-point lead, but the Black Knights came storming back with the decisive18-2 run sparked by back-to-back three-point plays by Thompson and Nelson to take a 39-27 lead with 12:57 to go. Richard capped the run with five straight points, including a three-pointer to snap an 0-for-6 start from the floor.

With Army on top 43-31, Wisseh hit a three-pointer cut the lead to nine points with 10:14 left. The basket ignited a 7-0 LIU run that brought the Blackbirds within five with 8:34 to go. Simmons hit two free throws at the 8:12 mark to stop the drought, but a three-pointer by Michael Culpo pulled the Blackbirds within four at 45-41.

Army stopped the bleeding on a layup by Hence off a feed from Richard, but Wisseh came right back on the LIU’s next possession to make it 47-43. After an Army miss, Wisseh struck again with a three-pointer off a long rebound to pull the Blackbirds within a point.

Simmons gave Army a four-point cushion when he hit a triple as shot clock expired with 4:55 left. Kyle Johnson’s jumper made it 50-48 with 4:44 to go, and Wisseh made it a one-point game with 4:21 to go, hitting one of two free throws. That was as close as the Blackbirds would come, however. Miller missed front end of one-and-one but Richard snared the rebound, and later in the possession Simmons drilled a three-pointer to make it 53-49 with 3:33 left.

The Black Knights took a six-point lead when Richard corralled a loose rebound and hit a streaking Simmons for a breakaway layup.
Richard hit two free throws to push the margin to 57-49 with 55 seconds left. Army led by as many as 10 points before the Blackbirds were able to cut the final margin to seven points.

The victory stopped a five-game winning streak for LIU over the Black Knights. Army has now won six of its last seven at Christl Arena.

Army will try for its second win of the season on Saturday, Nov. 21 at Princeton. It is the first of three straight games versus Ivy League opponents. Harvard comes to Christl Arena on Nov. 23 and Yale visits West Point on Saturday, Nov. 28.

Game Notes: Army started five seniors for the second straight game with Josh Miller taking the place of Eric Zastoupil … 6-0 Marcus Nelson jumped center for the Black Knights and earned the first possession … Miller also blocked a shot to run his career total to 58, the third-best in Academy history … Army committed an Academy record 34 turnovers in the loss at VMI in the opener, but committed only 10 miscues in the win over LIU … Army is now 18-9 in its last 27 games when scoring at least 60 points … Tuesday’s win marked the first time since Feb. 27, 2008 that the Black Knights won a game in which it trailed at halftime … Army had lost 16 straight games when losing at halftime … Army has either held the lead or been within one possession of the lead in 24 of the last 30 games … The Black Knights have won four straight games when limiting their opponents to less than 60 points … Clevleand Richard has now started a team-best 42 games … Nelson has been with the first unit 35 straight times … Julian Simmons has now scored 28 points in only 24 minutes of work this season … Army is averaging 46 points per game in the second half through the first two games … The Black Knights’ highest-scoring second half last season was 45 points.

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