CHARLESTON, S.C. Jarell Brown scored a game-high 23 points and Matt Bell added 17 points as Army withstood a furious run to start the second half by The Citadel to defeat the Bulldogs 63-55 in men's basketball action at McAlister Field House on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs started the second half with a 13-0 explosion after trailing by eight at halftime and had a 46-38 lead with 12:34 left, but Army ended the game with a 27-9 run to walk away with its third win in a row. Army has won four games away from West Point already this season.
Brown hit four shots from beyond the three-point arc while Bell hit two from long range for the Black Knights, who improve to 6-2 on the season. Freshman Chris Walker was the third Army player to score in double figures, chipping in 11 points to go along with a team-high seven rebounds. The 6-2 start is Army's best since opening the 1978-79 campaign with an identical mark. The Black Knights have already surpassed their win total from the 2005-06 season.
The two teams found themselves tied at seven with 13:47 remaining in the first half, and the squads battled back and forth for most of the first 20 minutes. A three-pointer by The Citadel's Chris Diasparra gave The Citadel their biggest lead of the half at 19-15 with 8:43 left until halftime, but the Black Knights went on an 8-2 run, capped off on a three-point play by Bell. Senior guard Kevin Hammack hit one from beyond the arc to halt the run and give the Bulldogs the lead back at 24-23 with 4:17 left in the half, but Brown hit a three-pointer of his own to reclaim the advantage for the Black Knights at 26-24.
Army extended to their biggest advantage after a four-point play by Bell made it 30-24 with 2:23 left until halftime. Brown drilled a jumper just before the first half buzzer and Army went into the locker room with a 32-24 lead. Brown scored 11 to lead both teams and Bell added 10 for the Black Knights in the first half. McLendon had seven points to pace the Bulldogs in the first 20 minutes.
The Citadel came out of the locker room on fire on offense and with pressure defense, as McLendon hit one from beyond the arc and Everhart nailed his first three-pointer of the season to pull the Bulldogs to within two at 32-30 with 17:34 remaining. McLendon then stole the inbounds pass and hit a layup to tie the contest at 32. The Bulldogs continued their onslaught with a layup by Hammack and completed a 13-0 run to begin the second half on a three-pointer by McLendon to give The Citadel a 37-32 lead with 16:50 left.
A three-point attempt by Brown bounced around the rim and in to give Army its first points of the half and cut the deficit to two at 37-35. The Citadel took its biggest lead of the contest at 46-38 with 12:34 remaining.
Army climbed back into the game as freshman guard Marcus Nelson hit a layup to cut the advantage to 46-43 and junior forward Corban Bates hit a three to tie the contest at 48-48 with 9:11 remaining. Everhart hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs the lead back at 50-48, but the Black Knights regained the advantage for good after a jumper by Bell made it 52-50 with 6:09 left. Another jumper by Bell pushed the Army advantage to four and completed a 16-4 Army spurt.
Demetrious Nelson hit two free throws to trim the lead back to two, but two from the charity stripe by Brown expanded the advantage back to four at 56-52 with 3:11 left. After a free throw by McLendon, Brown hit a jumper to give the Black Knights a 58-53 lead with 2:31 remaining and Army held on for the eight-point victory. It marked the sixth time in seven meetings between the schools that the contest was decided by single digits.
Army returns to action on Wednesday, Dec. 6, hosting NJIT at Christl Arena at 7 p.m.