Final Statistics: SMU 71, Army 63
DALLAS, TEXAS – Army’s second-half comeback attempt that cut a 16-point deficit to just four points in the final 20 seconds fell just short in a 71-63 loss at SMU on Wednesday night. The loss snapped the Black Knights’ (9-3) four-game winning streak, while the Mustangs (5-6) ended a three-game losing skid.
SMU built a 16-point advantage with 8:14 to go, but the Black Knights went on a 22-10 run over the next seven minutes, five seconds to get within 67-63 with 17 seconds remaining. The Mustangs hit four straight free throws to set the final margin.
Army held the Mustangs without a field goal during its run. SMU scored its final 15 points from the free throw line.
Senior G Josh Miller and sophomore G Julian Simmons led the Black Knights with 14 points each, while senior F Cleveland Richard chipped in with 12 markers. Simmons led the team with five rebounds, while Miller handed out two assists without committing a turnover in 36 minutes. Freshman F Ella Ellis hit a career-high three three-pointers during Army’s frantic comeback to finish with nine points.
Derek Williams led all scorers with 20 points, including three three-pointers. He entered the game just 3 for 31 from long range. Papa Dia had a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Mouhammad Faye and Justin Haynes added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
SMU outshot the Black Knights, 51.3 percent to 38.6 percent. The Mustangs were the first team to crack the 50-percent barrier versus Army this season. The Black Knights have now allowed 70-or-more points in all three of their losses this season.
Foul shooting also played a key role. Army, which entered the game last in the Patriot League at 60.8 percent, was a perfect 12 for 12 from the stripe, but the Mustangs hit 25-of-31 attempts.
Army led 8-2 in the early going, but the Mustangs outscored the Black Knights 32-14 over the final 16:28. Army had a five-minute, 25-second scoring drought and a four-minute, 51-second dry spell in the first half.
Neither team started crisply on the offensive end. The Black Knights missed their first two shots and turned the ball over twice before Miller started the scoring with a foul-line jumper with 18:23 to go. Miller followed with a three-pointer to make it 5-0, before SMU got on the board with two free throws by Dia with 16:55 to go.
Simmons stroked Army’s second three-pointer to make it 8-2, but the Mustangs scored the games’ next 10 points, to take a 12-8 lead on a three-pointer by Mike Walker with 11:34 left. Army went 0 for 7 from the floor during the spurt.
Simmons ended the Mustang run with a jumper, but SMU went on another scoring spree, posting 14 of the next 18 points to take a 30-16 lead with 3:07 to go. Included in that run was another of the Black Knights’ first-half scoreless streaks.
Army was able to trim the lead to 12 on three occasions, including the final basket of the half, a jumper in the lane by Simmons with 32 seconds left, to send the teams into the locker room with the Mustangs holding a 34-22 advantage.
The Black Knights shot just 33.3 percent (8-24) in the first half, while the Mustangs hit at a 54.5 percent (12-22) clip. SMU also held a 15-12 rebounding edge at the half. Simmons paced the Black Knights, while Faye led all players with 10 followed closely by Dia’s nine markers.
After Army cut the lead to 10 points just more than 30 seconds into the second half, the Mustangs went on an 8-2 run, including two 27-foot jumpers by Williams with the shot clock buzzer going off. SMU led 42-26 with 17:33 to go, but the Black Knights went on a 13-6 run to get within nine points on jumper by Richard at the 10:24 mark.
The two teams traded baskets before the Mustangs used yet another scoring run, this one of seven straight points, to take a 57-41 lead with 8:14 to go. The run was capped by a Dia three-point play. That was the final field goal of the game for the Mustangs and set up Army’s final comeback try.
The Black Knights are now 2-21 in its last 23 games when giving up 70-or-more points.
Army ends its two-game, cross-country swing on Saturday, Jan. 2 at Portland. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.
Game Notes: Army’s 12-point halftime deficit was its largest of the season … the Black Knights trailed Buffalo by 10 at the half … Josh Miller has recorded season high scoring nights in each of the last two games … Julian Simmons tied his career high with five rebounds … Army has been outscored by 81-37 (-44) from the free throw line in its three losses … the Black Knights’ total margin of defeat in those three games is 22 points … all three of Army’s losses have been by eight points or less … Army has outscored its opponents in the second half in the last nine games … Wednesday’s loss was the Black Knights’ first of the season when outrebounding its opponent … Army has not lost back-to-back games this season.