WEST POINT, N.Y. The Army men’s basketball team overcame a six-point deficit in the final nine minutes to take a 59-56 decision against Dartmouth on Saturday afternoon at Christl Arena. The Black Knights trailed 49-43 with 8:38 left, but outscored the Big Green 16-7 for the remainder of the game.
Army has won four of its last five games and ends the 2007 portion of its schedule at 6-5. It is the first time the squad has been above the .500 mark since Feb. 10 of last season.
Junior F Doug Williams led the Black Knights with a season-high 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting. Williams also contributed five rebounds, an assist, a blocked shot and a steal. Sophomore G Marcus Nelson scored in double figures for the second straight game with 10 points, while senior G Jarell Brown just missed a double-double with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Sophomore G Josh Miller scored six points, snared five boards and handed out a game-high five assists for the Black Knights.
Dartmouth (5-6) also had three players in double figures led by Alex Barnett’s game-high 20. Johnathan Ball netted 13 points and eight rebounds, while Michael Giovacchini posted 10 markers.
Led by Williams, Army owned the inside, outscoring the Big Green 38-18 in the paint. The Black Knights also outrebounded Dartmouth, 33-25. Army shot 47.8 percent for the game, while limiting the Big Green to just 37.5 percent from the floor.
Free-throw shooting also played a critical role in the victory. Army entered the game shooting 63.3 percent from the foul line as a team, but converted on 13 of 17 tries (76.5 percent) against the Big Green, including 5 of 6 in the final minute of play to take and maintain the lead.
The first half featured six ties and five lead changes with neither team holding more than a six-point advantage. With the score tied at 10-10 with 12:59 left in the half, Army went on a 7-1 spurt to take its largest lead of the game at 17-11. Barnett brought the Big Green back with back-to-back triples to tie the score at 17-17. The Black Knights scored six of the next seven points, all inside the lane, to open up a five-point advantage, but again Dartmouth rallied with seven straight points to regain the lead at 25-23. The see-saw affair continued with Army taking a four-point lead on Brown’s first three-pointer of the afternoon. DeVon Mosley tossed in a three of his own for the Big Green to cut the lead to one, and the two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half. The Black Knights went into the locker room with a 34-33 advantage.
Williams scored the first four points of the second half and Brown hit 1 of 2 foul shots give the Black Knights a six-point lead with 15:25 left in the game. The Big Green held Army scoreless for the next 3:25, taking a 43-39 lead that would then stretch to six points on two occasions. Junior F John Moonshower started the Black Knights’ comeback with a pair of free throws at the 8:21 mark that cut the Dartmouth advantage to 49-45. The Big Green led 54-49, but Army scored the next nine points to take a four-point lead with 38 seconds remaining.
Nelson gave Army the lead for good, breaking a 54-54 tie by hitting both ends of a one-and-one. Miller did the same with 38 seconds left to push the lead to four. Dartmouth cut the deficit to two points after a layup by Barnett off a loose-ball scramble. Brown hit one of two foul shots with 15 seconds left to give the Black Knights a three-point advantage, but Dartmouth missed its last two three-point attempts of the contest. The Big Green had the ball with less than three seconds remaining, but could only manage a desperation toss from 30 feet after a near turnover.
The win was Army’s second consecutive victory by three points. The Black Knights are now 4-1 in games decided by five-or-fewer points.
Due to term-ending exams, Saturday’s game was the Black Knights first action since Dec. 13. Army will follow the nine-day hiatus with a 10-day break for the holiday season. The Black Knights play the fourth game of their current five-game homestand on Wednesday, Jan. 2 against Brown at 7 p.m.
Game Notes: The Black Knights used their sixth starting lineup in 11 games ... Junior F Kenny Brewer was in the starting lineup for the first time this season, joining Josh Miller, Jarell Brown, Marcus Nelson and Doug Williams, all of whom have started at least the last five outings ... Brown has now scored in double figures in eight straight games ... After not having three players reach double figures in any of the first nine games of the season, the Black Knights have had trio of double-digit scorers in each of the last two ... Miller has had at least five assists in four straight games and in eight of 11 on the season ... Army has now won 21 games in the last two seasons ... The Black Knights won 20 total games from 2002-06 ... The Army win snapped Dartmouth’s three-game winning streak in the series ... Six of the last 12 meetings between the two teams have been decided by three points or less ... Army is now 5-0 this season when outrebounding its opponent ... The Black Knights have shot at least 42 percent in all six of their wins ... Army’s bench outscored Dartmouth’s reserves, 15-14 ... It was the first time the Black Knights had more bench points since a 29-19 advantage against LIU (eight games).