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February 29th, 2012

Army falls to Lehigh in overtime thriller, 74-72

Army senior G Julian Simmons tallied 14 points and four assists for the Black Knights in a 74-72 overtime loss to Lehigh at Christl Arena in West Point, NY. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART, JR. (file)

West Point - John Adams’ three-pointer with 10.3 seconds left in overtime propelled Lehigh (23-7, 11-3 PL) to a 74-72 victory over Army (12-17, 5-9 PL) in the regular-season finale at Christl Arena. The Black Knights led 72-71 when Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum drove the lane and found an open Adams who hit his second three-pointer of the game to give the Mountain Hawks the victory.

Army had a chance to tie, but missed two free throws, the second intentionally, with 2.8 seconds remaining. Lehigh rebounded and missed the front end of a one-one-one, but the Black Knights could not get a shot off in time.

The game went back and forth for the entire 45 minutes with a total of 20 ties and 16 lead changes.

Senior G Julian Simmons and junior F Ella Ellis led the Black Knights with 14 points each. Ellis also tied for the team lead with five rebounds and four assists. Junior F Jordan Springer grabbed five rebounds, and Simmons dished out a career-high four assists. Freshman G Maxwell Lenox contributed nine points, two rebounds and four assists.

Simmons hit two three-pointers to become only the second Army player to make at least 60 three-pointers in three different seasons (Mark Lueking).

McCollum led all players with 26 points on 11-of-18 from the floor. Gabe Knutsen scored 17 and snared six rebounds, while Adams added 11 points. McCollum also accounted for six rebounds and a team-high five assists.

Army had a chance to win despite shooting just 9-for-26 from three-point range. Sophomore G Josh Herbeck hit three, including a buzzer-beater three-pointer and the shot that gave Army a 72-71 lead with 2:13 left.

After Lehigh scored the first basket of the game on a three-pointer, the Black Knights ripped off a 12-2 run to claim a 12-5 advantage following a jumper by Simmons with 15:29 left.

Lehigh scored the next seven points to tie the game at 12-12 as Army missed seven consecutive shots. Lenox drained a baseline jumper with 11:18 left to end Army’s cold streak and give the Black Knights a two-point advantage. The Mountain Hawks tied the game on a layup by Justin Maneri, but Army scored the next five points, including a three-pointer by Ellis to regain a 19-14 lead with 9:15 left in the opening half.

After a layup by Corey Schaefer cut the Army lead to three, the Black Knights scored the next three points to re-establish a six-point lead at 22-16 with 6:51 left. Lehigh had an answer, however, with an 8-2 run of its own, regaining the lead at 26-24 on a jumper by McCollum with 3:58 left in the first half.

The Black Knights tied the game on a layup by sophomore F Andrew Stire, but McCollum scored four straight for the Mountain Hawks to give them a 30-26 advantage. Army scored the final five points of the half, including a 24-footer from Herbeck at the buzzer that sent the Black Knights into the locker room with a 31-30 advantage.

Lenox led Army with seven points in the first half, while Herbeck and Simmons each had six. McCollum led all scorers with 13 first-half points.

Springer scored the first basket of the second half to put Army on top by three, but the Mountain Hawks scored 10 unanswered points to seize a 40-33 lead. The Black Knights got right back into the game when Simmons hit his first three-pointer to start an 11-3 run that put them back in front 44-43with 12:12 left.

The see-saw tipped back in the Mountain Hawks’ favor after five straight points re-established a four-point lead with 11:12 left. The Black Knights stemmed Lehigh’s momentum and tied the game at 48-48 after a three-pointer by freshman G Chris Gramling, the first of his career, and a free throw by Ellis.

A jumper by McCollum broke the 10th tie of the game, but Ellis answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to put Army back on top at 51-50 with 7:32 left. McKnight hit a three-pointer to put the Mountain Hawks back on top by two, but Johnson scored in the post and freshman F Whit Thornton converted a fastbreak layup to give Army back the lead at 55-53 with 6:19 left.

Lehigh scored four straight points to take a 57-55, but Ellis rattled home a jumper to knot the game at 57-57 with 4:33 left. Army stepped up defensively with Springer drawing two charges in a row and grabbing a defensive rebound to keep the game tied. Springer then stepped to the free throw line where he knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Black Knights back on the positive side of the scoreboard at 59-57 with 2:06 left.

Knutsen continued to flip the lead, converting a three-point play with 1:51 left. Springer tied it at the free throw line, but McCollum answered with a pull-up jumper to make it 62-60 with 1:16 on the clock. Army answered right back with a layup by a cutting Mo Williams that knotted the game at 62-62. McCollum hit a pair of foul shots to give Lehigh the lead, but Ellis answered on the other end by stroking a pair of foul shots to tie the game once again.

Lehigh had the final shot, but McCollum’s pull-up three-pointer was off the mark. Simmons secured the rebound, forcing the game into overtime.

Williams started the scoring in the extra session with a three-pointer from the right wing, but McCollum answered on Lehigh’s next possession with a three-pointer to make it 67-67 with 4:14 left. A layup by Lenox put Army back in front, but consecutive dunks by the Knutsen and Adams gave the Mountain Hawks a two-point lead with 2:50 left.

With the shot clock winding down, Lenox drove the baseline and kicked to Herbeck who drained his third three-pointer, putting Army on top 72-71 with 2:13 left. Neither team scored again until Adams’ game-winning three-pointer.

Army will be the sixth seed in the Patriot League Tournament.

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