Feb. 27, 2013
WORCESTER, Mass. – Army is guaranteed to finish in the top two of the Patriot League standings following a 62-35 win at Holy Cross on Wednesday night. The second-place Black Knights (21-7, 10-3 Patriot League) caused 31 turnovers, resulting in 26 points to edge the third-place Crusaders (15-13, 7-6 PL) in Army’s final road game of the regular season. Senior Anna Simmers totaled a game-high 21 points while holding Holy Cross’ leading scorer Alex Smith without a point in the second half en route to the Crusaders’ lowest scoring game in series history.
An Army opponent coughed up the ball more than 30 times for the first time since Feb. 13, 2005, and the 31 miscues are the most by a Black Knight foe since Coast Guard was credited with 34 on Nov. 22, 2002. Army's 27-point win over the Crusaders is the Black Knights’ largest margin of victory in the series since scoring a 34-point win Feb. 6, 2007.
The game proved to be a tale of two halves as Smith shined through the first 20 minutes, tallying all 16 of her points as Holy Cross led by as many as eight midway through the stanza. The Crusaders shot 50 percent from the floor in the first, including an impressive 5-of-6 mark from beyond the arc. Conversely, Army shot 37.9 percent from the floor, making just three of its 11 attempts from outside.
Despite the rusty shooting, the Black Knights carried a 27-25 lead into halftime thanks to seven points from Simmers and 16 Holy Cross turnovers leading to 13 Army points.
Things looked bad for the Black Knights as Simmers picked up her third foul just 12 seconds into the second half and the Crusaders tied the score, 27-27, just 15 seconds later. Army found its grove at that point, however, going on a 12-2 run as five different players scored to lead 41-29 with 12:03 remaining.
Holy Cross got no closer than 10 as Army’s lead ballooned to as much as 27 thanks to the Black Knights’ shooting percentage exceeding 40 percent while the Crusaders shot just 20 percent through the final 20 minutes. Smith was held without a point after totaling more points than any Army opponent had in the first half all season.
Freshman Kelsey Minato totaled 12 points, including a trio of three-pointers, as her double-digit scoring streak extended to a league-best 13 games.
“I have to give Anna Simmers a tremendous amount of credit,” said Army head coach Dave Magarity after the game. “Alex Smith is one of the best offensive perimeter players in the league and she really looked in rare form in the first half. Anna got in foul trouble a little bit, she wasn’t getting the help she needed when it came to Smith. At halftime, we didn’t go crazy, we were up two, but I said we just can’t let her do this in the second half or it will go down to the wire. I can’t’ say enough about her. She’s deserving of being the defensive player of the year in the conference. Within our locker room, she’s covered the best perimeter player in every game this year. She’s done an incredible job and this is a pretty good example of that.”
With first-place Navy’s win over Lehigh on Wednesday night, Army remains in second place but could move up to first with a win over the Mountain Hawks in Saturday’s finale accompanied by a Midshipmen loss at Bucknell. Army is three games ahead of Holy Cross and American, who are in a tie for third place. The higher-seeded team serves as the host during the Patriot League Tournament.
The Black Knights could still play any of three teams in the first round of the Patriot League Tournament as Bucknell and Lafayette are in a tie for sixth with 4-9 records and Colgate is alone in eighth at 3-10. Army will host through the semifinals regardless, with the quarterfinal set for March 7 at West Point’s Christl Arena. Semifinals are scheduled for March 11, while the title game is slated for March 16.
Army will conclude its regular-season schedule on Saturday at home when the Black Knights host fifth-place Lehigh. Army won Game 1 of the season series in Bethlehem, Pa., on Feb. 2, and is eyeing its first regular-season sweep of the Mountain Hawks since 2006-07 and just the second since 2001-02.
Game Notes: Army will finish in the top two in the Patriot League for the third time in program history and first time since 2006-07 when the Black Knights were runner-up to Bucknell … Army’s 21 wins are three shy of its Division I program record (24) … Army has 10 conference wins for the first time since 2006-07 … the Black Knights have won at Holy Cross three times in the past four seasons … Army and Holy Cross split the regular-season series for the third consecutive season … the win was head coach Dave Magarity’s 120th at Army and 433rd of his career.