WEST POINT, N.Y. Jarell Brown scored a season-high 24 points and Chris Walker added a career-high 23 points to lead the Army men’s basketball team past visiting VMI, 79-72, Tuesday evening at Christl Arena. The Black Knights improve to 5-2 on the season, marking their best seven-game start in 12 years and equaling the team’s 2005-06 win total.
VMI (3-5) led by as many as six points in the second half, and held a 63-59 lead with 9:12 to play. A quick 8-0 Army scoring run turned the four-point deficit into a four-point advantage and the Black Knights never trailed again. Army was 8 of 8 at the free throw line in the final two minutes to ice the contest.
The first half was a back and forth affair that featured five ties and five lead changes. VMI built the first significant lead of the game, forging a 9-0 scoring spurt to assume a 33-24 advantage with 2:48 remaining in the period.
Army bounced back with a furious 13-4 run to close the half, bringing the Black Knights even at 37-37 as the buzzer sounded. Brown, who scored five points during the surge, assisted on Corban Bates’ lay-up that just beat the horn and sent the Black Knights into the locker room riding a wave of momentum.
Walker scored 13 points in the first half, while Brown added 12 points. Army scored 18 points in the paint en route to shooting a robust 48.0 percent from the field in the period. VMI converted just 30.8 percent of its field goal attempts, including 7 of 27 from three-point range (.259).
VMI opened up a 48-43 lead four minutes into the second half and did not trail again until Army made the aforementioned 8-0 spurt.
Army outrebounded VMI, 45-31. It marks the third time this season that the Black Knights have outrebounded an opponent by 10 or more rebounds. Bates snared 10 caroms to go with 10 points as the junior forward posted the first double-double recorded by an Army player this season.
Willie Bell led a group of four VMI players in double figures with 14 points. Travis Holmes (12 points), Fred Robinson (11 points) and Carl Josey (10 points) rounded out the list of Keydets tallying 10 or more points. Army held VMI’s’ leading scorer Reggie Williams to just nine points on 2 of 12 shooting. Williams came into the game averaging more than 27 points per game.
Brown shot 8 of 17 from the floor en route to his fourth 20-point game this season. Walker converted 8 of 11 field goals and 7 of 10 free throws en route to his career high 23 points. The freshman also matched his career high with eight rebounds.
Matt Bell scored nine points; it marked the first time this season that the senior guard failed to reach double figures. Bell was honored before the game to recognize him as the 25th Army men’s basketball player to reach 1,000 career points. He reached the milestone in the Black Knights’ home loss to Cornell last week.
VMI, which came into the contest averaging over 105 points per game, was held to just 72 points. The Keydets shattered the Christl Arena record for three-point field goals attempted, launching 43 triples.
Army returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 2, when the Black Knights put their modest two-game win streak on the line at The Citadel. Tip off from McAlister Field House is slated for 1 p.m.