BETHLEHEM, PA. – Ella Ellis poured in 30 points, including 19 in the second half, to lead Army (15-14, 8-6 PL) back from a 16-point deficit, but Lehigh (20-8, 10-4 PL) capitalized on three turnovers in the final 1:17 to take an 81-75 win Saturday afternoon at Stabler Arena in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Black Knights enter the Patriot League Tournament as the fourth seed and will host fifth-seeded American Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Army trailed 53-37 13:04 left, but a 25-9 run knotted the game at 62-62 with 4:33 left. Ellis scored nine points during the run, and freshman Kyle Wilson added seven points, including the game-tying three-point play. With the Black Knights down two points with the ball, Lehigh’s Holden Greiner scored five straight points, including to breakaway baskets after he stole the ball, to extend the lead to seven. The Mountain Hawks were 6-for-6 from the line in the closing moments and led by nine before Dylan Cox’s last-second three-pointer set the final margin.
Ellis shot 11-for-18 from the floor, including his third straight game with four three-pointers. The Houston native is the first Army player since Mark Lueking in January 1996 to score at least 30 points in consecutive games. It was his third 30-point effort in the last four games, and his four 30-point games this season are the most since Lueking had six in 1995-96.
Wilson finished the game with 16 points. Freshman Kevin Ferguson grabbed a team-high six rebounds and blocked two shots, while Cox handed out four assists.
Greiner posted a double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds to lead four Lehigh players in double figures. Justin Goldsborough had 11 points, while B.J. Bailey and Corey Schaefer each had 10. Mackey McKnight was credited with a game-high seven assists.
The loss snapped the Black Knights’ five-game overall winning streak and four-game road winning streak.
Lehigh jumped out to an early 7-2 lead after a basket by Knutson with 16:00 left in the half. Ellis buried a three-pointer to pull Army within two, and his second triple of the half knotted the score at 11-11 with 12:50 left. Ferguson started the play with a blocked shot, and Cox passed up an open look to find Ellis on the right wing.
Army took the lead on a Wilson jumper and a basket by Ellis extended the Black Knights advantage to 18-14 with 10:05 remaining. The Mountain Hawks stopped Army’s momentum and used a 13-2 run of their own to take a 27-20 lead with 4:36 showing on the clock.
Herbeck knocked down a triple and Springer threw down a dunk to bring Army within two at 27-25, but Lehigh answered right back with five straight points to regain their seven point edge. The teams exchanged points to end the half and send Lehigh into the locker room ahead 34-27.
The Black Knights shot just 35.7 percent and committed nine turnovers in the first half. Ellis led all players with 11 points, while Greiner had 10 for the Mountain Hawks.
Lehigh came out of the gate in the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 44-32 lead with 15:02 left. Army cut the lead to nine on two occasions, but a 7-0 run capped by a three-pointer by B.J. Bailey gave the Mountain Hawks a 56-37 lead with 13:04 left.
Army’s comeback started with a jumper by Wilson and five straight points by Ellis brought Army’s deficit back to single digits at 53-44 with 11:27 to go. The Mountain Hawks were able to push their lead back to 12 pints with 9:32 to go, but a 14-2 run, punctuated by Wilson’s driving layup and free throw, tied the game at 62-62.
A free throw by Goldsborough put the Mountain Hawks on top by one and two straight free throws by Greiner made it a 65-62 game. Army cut its deficit to one on three occasions, but could not tie or take the lead. Greiner’s two fast break baskets sandwiched around a free throw put the Mountain Hawks’ lead at seven. Army got no closer than five for the remainder of the game.
Army’s game Wednesday night will mark just the second time the Black Knights have hosted a postseason game under the current format. The Black Knights swept the Eagles during the regular season.