ANNAPOLIS, Md. Jarell Brown’s driving basket with 13.4 seconds remaining propelled the Army men’s basketball team to a 69-67 victory at arch-rival Navy in front of a sellout crowd of 5,710 at Alumni Hall on Sunday, Jan. 27. Brown’s final basket capped a career-high 35-point effort, including 14 points in the final 6:17 as the Black Knights overcame a nine-point second-half deficit.
The win snapped Army’s two-game losing skid and improved their record to 9-10 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League. The Midshipmen fell to 9-11 overall and 2-3 in league play.
Army trailed 55-46 with 10:55 left, but went on a quick 6-0 run to cut the deficit to three points with 7:46 left. Navy was able to push its lead back to six points, but the Black Knights scored eight of the next 10 points to know the score at 60-60 on a jumper by Brown with 4:34 to go. A turning point in the spurt came when Navy’s Greg Sprink missed a breakaway dunk that would have made it an eight-point game. Navy corralled the rebound, but Brown made a steal and raced the length of the floor for a layup and was fouled. He completed the three-point play for a five-point swing.
Army took its first lead of the second half on a pair of free throws by Brown, but three straight points by Sprink pushed the Mids back on top, 63-62 with 3:57 left. Brown came right back on Army’s next possession and drilled his fourth and final three-pointer of the game to put Army ahead 65-63. Navy’s Mark Veazey looked like he would tie the game, but Army’s Doug Williams rejected his layup attempt and snared the rebound. The Black Knights did not score on the ensuing possession, but Cleveland Richard converted a fast-break layup off a steal by Marcus Nelson. Richard was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw to keep the lead at 67-63 with 2:31 to go.
Neither team scored again until the 1:15 mark when Sprink drained two free throws. Adam Teague hit a layup with 42 seconds left that tied the game for the seventh and final time. Army called timeout with 40 seconds left before Brown drove baseline and hit the game-winner with 13.4 seconds left. Navy had two shots to tie or win the game. Veazey missed a jumper, but the Mids grabbed the offensive board. After a timeout by each team, Chris Harris’ three-pointer glanced off the rim as time expired to seal the Black Knights’ victory.
Brown’s offensive explosion was his fourth 30-point game of the season, and 11th game of the year with at least 20 points. He hit 13 of 26 shots from the floor, including 4 of 9 from three-point range, and hit all five of his free throw attempts. Brown pulled down a game-high seven rebounds, handed out four assists without committing a turnover and made three steals while playing all 40 minutes.
Army had two other players in double figures led by Josh Miller’s near double-double of 11 points and eight assists. Williams pumped in 10 points, including a 6 of 7 showing from the foul line. The Black Knights improved to 4-0 this season when at least three players scored in double figures.
The game marked Army’s highest-offensive output since a 70-66 win against Portland on Jan. 5, snapping a string of five straight games of less than 60 points. The Black Knights shot 45.6 percent from the field and hit 12 of 15 free throws. Army outscored the Mids in the paint by a count of 34-18. Navy held a 39-38 edge on the glass, but Army forced 11 second-half turnovers that led to 12 points.
Sprink, who entered the game as the Patriot League’s leading scorer just ahead of Brown, scored 20. Sprink was 6 of 18 from the floor, but just 2 of 8 from long range. Harris also scored 20 points and handed out a team-high five assists. The Army defense limited the Mids’ three-point shooting duo to 7 of 22 from deep. Navy made 11 of 33 three-pointers in the game. Teague added 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half.
The Black Knights raced out to an 11-0 lead, but the Midshipmen scored 13 of the next 15 points, including four three-pointers, to tie the game at 13-13. Miller’s jumper stopped Army’s four-minute, 24-second scoring drought and kickstarted a 6-0 run that put the Black Knights up 19-13. Navy came back with a 10-3 run of their own to take its first lead at 23-22, but Williams got the lead right back for Army after being fouled while finishing a dunk. His free throw gave Army a 25-23 advantage. The Mids scored the next six points to take a four-point advantage, but the see-saw affair continued with a 7-0 Army run. A three-pointer by Brown gave the Black Knights a 30-29 lead with 3:29 left in the half and another jumper from the Cleveland native opened up a 32-29 lead with 1:27 left. The Mids came right back to end the half on a 9-2 run. Harris’ buzzer-beater three-pointer sent Navy into the locker room up, 38-34.
Nelson hit a three-pointer to open the second-half scoring and pull Army back within one with 18:24 to go. Navy quickly regained control, scoring the next eight points to take its largest lead at 46-37 with 15:27 left. Army got back within five, but Navy stretched the lead back to nine on three occasions, setting up the furious final 10 minutes.
Army’s win guaranteed the Black Knights will at least split the regular-season series with the Midshipmen for the fourth straight season. Neither team has won two in a row since Navy swept the 2002-03 series.
The Black Knights continue their three-game road trip on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at first-place Lafayette.
Game Notes: Brown became the 10th player in Army history to score 30-or-more in at least four games in one season ... He is the seventh player to record five career 30-point games ... Brown moved into 14th place on Army’s career scoring list with 1,276 ... He ranks tied for fifth on the single-season three-point list with 71 ... The Black Knights used their 10th starting lineup of the season ... Senior G Grant Carter got the nod for the first time this season ... Army is now 3-2 in its last five trips to Annapolis ... Army’s 38 rebounds were the most since snaring 39 in the win at Sacred Hart on Nov. 12 ... Freshman G Rickey Royal saw significant action in crunch time as a defensive stopper ... He made one steal in the game ... Navy was 9 for 18 from three in the first half and 2 of 15 after halftime ... Navy’s 67 points marked the most by an Army opponent in Patriot League play this season.