Black Knights Clip Eagles, 66-63

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WEST POINT, N.Y.  Sophomore G Marcus Nelson scored a career-high 14 points and tied his career best with seven assists in Army’s 66-63 victory against Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday night in Christl Arena. The Black Knights evened their record at 5-5, while the Eagles now stand at 3-7.

Nelson was one of a season-high three players in double figures for the Black Knights. Sophomore G Josh Miller scored 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the floor, while senior G Jarell Brown added 12 markers. It was Brown’s seventh straight game in double figures, but snapped his string of six consecutive 20-point games. Seven of the eight Army players that saw at least five minutes of action scored.

Junior F Doug Williams snared a season-high 10 rebounds, while Brown asserted himself on the defensive end with a career-best five steals. Miller also kicked in six rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Delvin Franklin led the Eagles with 14 points, 12 of which came in the first half on four three-pointers. Adam Liddell contributed 13 points and nine boards. Rob Quaintance had 12 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals while playing all 40 minutes.

Army shot 48.1 percent for the game, including a 53.8 percent mark in the second half. The Black Knights have shot at least 42 percent in all five of their wins this season. The Black Knights’ defense held the Eagles to a 36.4 shooting percentage, including 33.3 percent from behind the arc. FGCU started the game 6 for 12 from long range, but was just 2 of 12 from deep in the second half.

The Black Knights held a commanding 38-18 advantage in the paint and scored 25 points off 18 Florida Gulf Coast turnovers.

FGCU scored the first four points of the game before the Black Knights went on a 12-0 run to take an eight-point lead with 14:00 minutes to go in the half. The Eagles whittled the lead down to 14-10, but Brown’s first three-pointer of the game pushed the Black Knights’ advantage back to seven points with 7:42 left. The Eagles responded with an 8-0 run to take back the lead at 20-19. Walker converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to return the lead to Army and extended the advantage to four points with a lay-in off a feed from Nelson with 5:11 to go. The Eagles were able come back on strength of its outside shooting with four three-pointers in the final 4:37. Franklin and Quaintance each hit a pair during the Eagles’ 12-2 run that gave them a 32-26 lead at halftime.

Franklin was 4 for 4 from the field in the first half, all on three-pointers. Army’s Brown had his lowest scoring half since the Long Island game with only three points on 1 of 7 shooting, including a 1 of 4 effort from three-point range.

The Eagles scored three of the first four points of the second half to take their largest lead of the game at 35-27. The Black Knights then went on a 10-2 surge to knot the game at 37-37 with 17:22 left. The highlight of the run came on the fast break when Brown threw a behind-the-back pass to Nelson who laid it off to Williams for an easy transition basket.  Brown then tied the score with fast-break bucket of his own. A three-point play by Terike Barrowes put the Eagles back in front, but freshman Nathan Hedgecock immediately tied the game at 40-40 with his first career three-pointer. The Eagles again took a three-point advantage, but Nelson’s second triple of the game tied the score at 44-44. With the score tied at 48-48, the Black Knights went on an 11-0 run during the next 4:09 to take a 59-48 lead, but FGCU answered back with an 11-2 spurt of their own to get back within a bucket at 61-59. Brown hit a pair of free throws to stretch the lead back to four points and a Cleveland Richard jumper with 2:06 to go extended the lead to five. A tip-in by Liddell cut the Army advantage to three points, but the Eagles could not convert on their next possession, missing a pair of shots before Miller grabbed the rebound. Richard was fouled and made one of two at the line to push the Black Knights’ lead to four with less than eight seconds left. The Eagles had one last gasp when Quaintance made the first of two free throws, missed the second on purpose and corralled his own rebound. His last-second desperation toss did not go, giving the Black Knights the three-point win.

Army’s win evened up its home record at 2-2 on the season. The Black Knights have three games remaining in its current five-game homestand.

The Black Knights will take nine days off for term-ending exams before hosting Dartmouth at Christl Arena on Saturday, Dec. 22 at 1 p.m.

Game Notes: Army used the same starting lineup of Jarell Brown, Josh Miller, Marcus Nelson, Corban Bates and Doug Williams for the third straight game ... It was the first time since the opening three games of the season that the Black Knights used the same starting five three consecutive times ... Brown’s three-point first half was only the third time in the last seven games he did not score in double figures during a half ... Freshman Nathan Hedgecock scored a career-high five points, including his first career three-pointer ... Williams’ 10 rebounds tied Army’s single-game high this season ... Brown also had 10 rebounds at VMI ... Thursday’s win marked the first time in three games that a player other than Brown scored in double figures ... Army outrebounded FGCU, 37-34, the third time in four games it held the advantage on the glass ... Chris Walker scored all seven of his points in the first half ... The victory marked the first time this season that the Black Knights won a game in which they trailed at the half.

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