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January 8th, 2014

The Black Knights Hold Off the Greyhounds, 91-82

Army Forward Larry Toomey (33) scored 10 points in Patriot League men’s basketball action at Christl Arena Sunday. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART, JR.
WEST POINT  - Army (6-7, 2-0) saw its 13-point lead in the opening minutes of the second half evaporate to just one, but the Black Knights outscored Loyola (6-7, 1-1) 16-8 in the final three minutes, 49 seconds to score a 91-82 victory in Patriot League men’s basketball action at Christl Arena Sunday afternoon. The victory marked the first time Army won back-to-back games to start its Patriot League schedule.

The Black Knights led for all but a stretch of 30 seconds in the first half. Army led by as many as 11 in the first half and turned a seven-point halftime lead into a 13-point advantage with 16:01 to go. The Greyhounds, who erased a 13-point deficit in the final six minutes of its overtime win versus Navy on Thursday, whittled Army’s lead to 75-74 at the 3:49 mark, put a pair of free throws by Kevin Ferguson and a three-pointer by Josh Herbeck pushed Army’s lead back to six points. The Greyhounds converted a three-point play, but would not get any closer for the remainder of the game. The Black Knights hit 11 of its 12 free throws in the final 1:14.

Kyle Wilson led Army with 18 points, 10 of which came in the final 5:29 after Loyola cut the Black Knights’ lead to two points. Wilson was 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final minute.

Army’s leading scorer was just one of five players as the Black Knights scored a season-high 91 points. Dylan Cox tallied a career-high 17 points, including his first three-pointer of the season. A 53.3 percent foul shooter entering the game, Cox nailed six of his seven attempts, including two with one minute to go that stretched Army’s lead to six. Ferguson just missed a double-double with 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds, while the power forward combination of Tanner Plomb and Larry Toomey accounted for 12 and 10 points, respectively. Wilson led the team with three assists, while Matt Gramling (3) and Tanner Omlid (2) had five of the team’s eight steals.

It was the first time Army put five players in double figures since last season’s Patriot League semifinal at Bucknell.

Dylan Cormier led all players with 27 points, his 10th 20-point game of the season. The Patriot League’s leading scorer 10-for-25 from the floor, including 1-for-6 from distance. He also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. R.J. Williams added 14 points, while Eric Laster and Franz Rassman scored 13 and 12, respectively.

Army shot 56.4 percent overall, but just 33.3 percent from three-point range (5-15). The Black Knights’ defense held the Greyhounds to 44.8 percent overall and 34.8 percent from deep (8-23). Army turned 15 Loyola turnovers into 24 points, outscoring the Greyhounds in that category by a margin of 24-10. The differential helped offset Loyola’s 35-33 rebounding edge and 19-10 advantage in second half points.

The Black Knights knocked down 24 of their 28 free throw attempts.

Ferguson’s tip-in started the scoring and helped the Black Knights to a 15-10 lead in the opening minutes. The Greyhounds went on a 7-0 run sparked Williams’s three-point play, to take a 17-15 lead with the 11:28 to go in the half. Cox answered with his first three-pointer, snapping an 0-for-5 to start the season, that gave Army the lead by one with 10:58 left. The Black Knights did not trail for the remainder of the game.

Army held a 26-21 advantage, but Loyola trimmed its deficit to just two points on free throws with 6:13 to go. A 16-7 Army run over the next 4:14 pushed the Black Knights’ lead to 11, its largest of the half, at 44-33 with 1:12 left. A dunk by Omlid capped the spurt. The Greyhounds scored the final two points of the half to go into the locker room down 44-37.

The teams combined to make their first five field goal tries of the second half with Ferguson putting Army on top by nine with 18:47 left. The Greyhounds scored the next  four points to make it a five-point game, but an 8-0 run punctuated by a Toomey tip-in gave Army a 58-45 lead at the 16:01 mark.

Army was able to maintain at least a seven-point margin, until Denzel Brito hit a three-pointer to make the score 66-60 with 8:54 left. Back-to-back layups by Williams and Cormier got the Greyhounds with a bucket, but a three-point play by Plomb pushed Army’s lead back to two possessions with 7:05 to go.

The teams exchanged baskets before Laster banked in a three with 5:44 to go to make it a three-point game. Wilson hit his first shot of the second half, but Cormier answered with a triple to trim the lead to 73-72. Wilson again came up big for the Black Knights, but Latham’s jumper off an offensive rebound made it a 75-74 game with 3:49 to go.

Army stemmed the momentum when Ferguson was fouled on a putback attempt. His two free throws, a Loyola turnover and Herbeck’s three-pointer pushed Army’s edge back to six points with 2:02 left. The Greyhounds came within three points on one occasion, but the Black Knights iced the game at the free throw line.

Sunday’s game was the first time the two teams met as members of the Patriot League. The all-time series is now tied at 1-1.

 The Black Knights are on the road for their next two games, starting with a trip to Lehigh Wednesday night.

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