WASHINGTON, D.C. Army cut a 17-point deficit to four with less than five minutes to play, but the Black Knights’ comeback attempt fell short in a 72-60 loss to top-seeded American at Bender Arena in the semifinals of the Patriot League Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Army, the fifth-seed in the tournament, ended its season with a 14-16 record. The Eagles improved to 20-11 and advanced to the conference title game against Colgate on Friday, March 14 at 4:45 p.m.
Senior G Jarell Brown finished his standout career with a team-high 15 points, including three three-pointers. Brown, the Black Knights’ first, first-team All-Patriot League selection since 1996, broke the Army single-season record, knocking down 101 three-pointers during his senior campaign. He ended his final season with 10 straight double-digit scoring games, and his 544 points ranks as the 10th-highest scoring season in Academy history.
Sophomores Cleveland Richard and Josh Miller each scored 12 points. Miller also led the team with five rebounds, four assists and three steals. He finished tied for sixth on Army’s single-season assists ledger with 119 helpers, and established a new Academy season mark with 55 steals.
Garrison Carr led all scorers with 23 points. Carr was 5 of 10 shooting, all from three-point range, and 8 of 8 at the foul line. Nick Hendra was also in double figures with 11 points, all coming in the second half.
The Eagles outrebounded Army, 34-17, and outshot the Black Knights 52.6 percent to 38.3 percent. Army turned the ball over a season-low eight times.
Army took an early 2-1 lead on a pull-up jumper by Miller with 17:21, but the Eagles reeled off a 22-4 run over the next seven minutes and 35 seconds to take their largest lead of the half at 23-6. Five of American’s seven field goals during the spurt were from three-point range, including three by Carr. A jumper by Brown ended a five-minute, 53-second run without a field goal for the Black Knights and cut the Eagles’ lead to 23-8. Miller scored four of the next six points to pull Army within 13 points at 25-12 with 7:06 left in the half. Miller scored 10 of Army’s first 12 points. After a basket by Bryce Simon, Brown knocked down his Army single-season record-tying 99th triple of the season to get the Black Knights within 12, but Simon answered with his second three to put the lead back at 15 points. The Eagles maintained their 15-point margin until Tyrell Thompson completed a three-point play after being fouled while hitting a fast-break bucket with 40 seconds left. Neither team scored on its final possession of the half, sending American into the locker room with a 32-20 lead.
Miller led all scorers with 10 points in the opening half. Carr led the Eagles with nine, all from long range. Simon had eight points before leaving the game with an injury mid-way through the first half. American hit six three-pointers and 10 field goals in the first 20 minutes after hitting just 11 shots and four threes in Army’s last trip to Bender Arena, a 49-40 Eagles’ victory.
Army started the second half on a 7-3 run, including Brown’s record-breaking 100th three-pointer of the season, to pull within eight points at 35-27 with 17:42 left on the clock. A three-pointer by Hendra pushed the margin back to 11 and kick-started a 14-5 run capped by a Carr three-pointer that gave the Eagles a 49-32 lead with 11:01 to go. The Black Knights roared back with a 21-8 spurt over the next six minutes and 24 seconds. Richard scored six points during the run, and Brown’s final career three-pointer pulled them within four at 57-53 with 4:37 left in the half. American regained control with an 11-3 run to push their lead back to 12 points. Army got as close as 10, but the Eagles increased the final margin to 12.
The game was the last for four Army seniors Brown, Corban Bates, Grant Carter and Ryan Hodgson. The quartet became the first group of Army seniors to play in two Patriot League semifinals during their career since 1996.
Army finished with 14 wins, marking the first time the Black Knights have won at least that many contests in consecutive seasons since 1977-78 (19) and 1978-79 (14). Army’s six league wins and fifth seed in the postseason tied its highest Patriot League finish.
Game Notes: Army has lost eight straight games at Bender Arena and have not won at the facility since American joined the Patriot League in 2001-02 ... American became the 18th consecutive No. 1 seed to advance to the league title game ... No top-seeded team has ever been beaten before the championship game in Patriot League history ... Army tied its season high with 20 made free throws ... The Black Knights finished the season with an Academy-record 259 steals ... Army’s 416 assists marked the second-best season total ever by the Black Knights ... Jarell Brown finished his career as Army’s eighth-ranked scorer with 1,444 career points ... He also finished tied for fifth on Army’s career steals ledger with 94 ... The loss snapped Army’s season-long three-game winning streak.