Black Knights Comeback Effort Falls Just Short At Buffalo

Final Statistics: Buffalo 74, Army 67

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Sophomore G Julian Simmons scored a career-high 30 points, but it was not enough to overcome a 15-point first-half deficit as the Army men's basketball team fell at Buffalo, 74-67, at Alumni Arena on Thursday night. The loss snapped the Black Knights' (5-2) five-game winning streak, while the Bulls (3-2) earned their first home victory of the season.

Simmons' 30-point effort was the first by an Army player since Jarell Brown scored 35 on Jan. 27, 2008 in a win at Navy. Simmons was the only Army player in double figures, making 12-of-20 field goals including five of his eight three-point attempts.

Senior G Josh Miller scored eight points and was one of four players with four rebounds. Senior F Cleveland Richard, Army's leading scorer entering the game at 14.8 points per game, scored three points on 1-of-12 shooting, including just one three-pointer in eight tries.

Sean Smiley and Rodney Pierce led the Bulls with 14 points. Smiley made four of the Bulls 10 three-pointers. John Boyer had 13 points, while Max Boudreau rounded out Buffalo's top scorers with 12 markers.

The Bulls were 28 for 35 from the free throw line, while Army made only five of its 10 foul shots. The Bulls also owned 37-29 rebounding advantage.

Army used its defense early in the game and held the Bulls without a field goal over the opening 5:46. Buffalo converted a pair of free throws to take an early two-point lead, but Army took command with nine unanswered points. During the run, the Black Knights used defensive pressure to hassle the Bulls’ offense and generated four turnovers over the first 3:33 of the action.

After Simmons and senior G Marcus Nelson sparked the 9-0 run for the Black Knights with transition baskets that made it 9-2, the host Bulls took command with an extended 19-5 run over the next 5:21 take a 21-14 lead at the 10:47 mark of the opening stanza. Simmons, who led the Black Knights with a team-high nine points in the first half, cut the lead down to five, 21-16, with another jumper before Buffalo stretched the lead to 10 with free throws and a triple from Zach Filzen.

Buffalo connected on eight of its 14 first-half triple tries, including 3-of-4 from Filzen over the next six minutes of game action, as the Bulls used an extended 14-5 spurt to take their largest lead of the game at 37-22. Over the final 3:29, however, Army responded with eight of the game’s next 11 points to cut the lead to 10, 40-30, going into the locker room.

After the Bulls started the second half with two free throws to take a 12-point lead, Simmons starting firing, knocking down back-to-back triples to trim the deficit to 42-36 with 18:38 left in the second half. Nelson finished off the 8-0 run with a steal and a layup to pull the Black Knights within four.

Buffalo stretched their lead back to eight points, but a layup by Simmons and a jumper by freshman F Ella Ellis started a 9-3 Army run got the Black Knights within two points at 49-47 with 13:41 on the clock. Army had several chances to tie or take the lead, but each time the Bulls were able to maintain their lead between two and five points over the next eight minutes.

Simmons got the Black Knights within one point at 58-57 with 4:28 to go, but Smiley scored five straight points to put the Bulls back on top by six. Buffalo did make a field goal in the final 3:36, but after the Black Knights sliced the lead to 65-62 with 2:31 to go, the Bulls iced the game by making nine of their final 10 free throw attempts.

Army’s loss was its first since the season opener at VMI on Nov. 13. Despite its second-best scoring output of the season, the Black Knights lost for the second time this season when allowing 60-or-more points.

The Black Knights continue their three-game road stretch at Fairleigh Dickinson on Monday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

Game Notes:
Josh Miller was back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Bryant … Thursday’s game was the first meeting in the series since 1978 … Julian Simmons 12 field goals, 20 field goal attempts and five three-pointers were career highs … Army dropped to 2-20 in its last 22 games when allowing 70-or-more points … Jeremy Hence, Ella Ellis and Chris Walker joined Miller with a team-high four rebounds … despite the tough shooting night, Cleveland Richard handed out six assists and made three steals … Army had 14 steals in the contest, the fourth time the Black Knights have made at least 14 steals in the first seven games … Army is now 1-2 on the road and 4-0 at home this season.



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