WEST POINT, N.Y. Navy scored 53 points, including 30 from outside the three-point line, in the second half to overcome a nine-point deficit and defeat Army, 71-63, in front of a season-high 3,605 fans at Christl Arena on Saturday, Feb. 23.
The Black Knights are now 11-15 overall and 4-8 in league play. The Midshipmen improved to 15-12 and 8-4 in conference play. Navy’s victory split the season series for the fifth consecutive year, and marked the Mids sixth straight win in the Star Game.
Army led 27-18 at intermission, but Navy shot 58.6 percent (17-29) in the second half, including 58.8 percent (10-17) from deep to post a 53-36 advantage in the second stanza. The Black Knights built their first-half advantage by limiting the Midshipmen to just 20.7 percent from the floor and 8.3 percent (1-12) from long range before halftime. The Midshipmen made just two of their first five three-pointers of the second half, but finished the game by hitting eight of their last 12 long-range tries.
Senior G Jarell Brown led Army with 18 points, including four three-pointers. He moved into sole possession of second place on the Black Knights’ career three-point list with 242. His 92 triples this season are the third most in Academy history.
Sophomore G Josh Miller scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds, dished out six assists and made four steals in 36 minutes of work. Sophomore Cleveland Richard was the third Army player in double figures with 10 points. Junior F Doug Williams led the Black Knights with six rebounds, while sophomore G Marcus Nelson added eight points, six assists and two steals. Senior G Ryan Hodgson played a career-high 20 minutes, recording career-best totals of four points, three rebounds and a steal.
Adam Teague led the Midshipmen with 18 points, 14 of them after halftime, and completed the double-double with 11 rebounds. Teague accounted for all four of his three-pointers in the second half. Clif Colbert added 17 points, including 13 in the second half, while Chris Harris rounded out Navy’s top scorers with 11 points. Greg Sprink, the Patriot League’s top scorer at more than 20 points per game, was limited to just eight markers, but led all players with 12 rebounds.
As a team, the Mids outrebounded Army, 45-32. Navy converted 14 offensive rebounds into 17 points.
The two teams went back-and-forth to start the game with neither team leading by more than three points in the first 12 minutes of action. Navy led, 14-13 before the Black Knights used an 11-0 spurt to take its largest lead of the half at 24-14 with 3:24 to go. Brown had five of the 11 points during the run. Navy scored the next four points to cut the lead to six, but Brown was true from three-point range to push the lead back to nine and send Army into the locker room with a 27-18 advantage.
Navy opened the second half on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to 29-25 with 17:30 left, but Miller hit back-to-back three-pointers to stretch Army’s lead back to 35-25. Navy started their comeback with a 7-0 run, but again Army was resilient, pushing the lead back to seven with 13:58 left. After a Navy basket, a double-pump layup on the break by Brown put the Black Knights ahead by six, but Navy scored the next nine points, including eight by Colbert, to take its first lead of the half at 46-43. Army was able to close the gap to one point on two occasions, but each team Navy was able to answer and not relinquish the lead.
The loss was Army’s season-high fourth straight. Navy has won their last five and moved one game behind American for the top spot in the Patriot League with two games remaining.
The Black Knights continue their three-game homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 27 when they host Lafayette. Tip-off at Christl Arena is set for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Army wore its alternate gray uniforms, a tradition in the annual Army-Navy matchups ... The loss marked only the second time this season Army has failed to win when Marcus Nelson scores at least six points (4-2) ... Navy’s 53 points in the second half represented the most points allowed in a half by the Black Knights this season ... Army’s 36 points in the second half were its highest scoring 20 minutes since tallying 43 in the second half at Bucknell ... The Black Knights cracked the 60-point mark for the first time in four games ... For the fourth straight game, Army’s entire margin of defeat could be accounted for at the free throw line ... Navy was 14 of 22 from the line, while the Black Knights hit 5 of 9 opportunities ... After winning its first four games with three players scoring in double figures, Army has lost its last two outings with a trio of double-digit scorers.