WEST POINT - Army fought back from an early 11-point deficit to take a 31-30 lead, but Navy outscored the Black Knights 49-26 over the final 22:36 to take a 79-57 victory in front of a Christl Arena record crowd of 5,195 Saturday afternoon.
Army scored first on a three-pointer by Tanner Plomb, but the Mids used a 17-3 run to claim a 17-6 lead. The Black Knights whittled the lead to six after a three-point play by Matt Gramling and after the Mids regained a nine-point edge, used an 18-8 spurt to take a one-point lead. Navy quickly answered with a jumper by Brandon Venturini to regain the lead for good, taking a four-point lead into halftime. Navy started the second half on a 22-6 run to take its first 20-point lead. Army was able to get as close as 15, but a 13-2 Navy run put the game away.
Plomb led the Black Knights with 17 points, knocking down eight of his 10 free throw attempts. Dylan Cox also reached double figures with 10 points. Kyle Wilson led Army with five rebounds, while Josh Herbeck and Gramling each tallied two assists.
Army shot just 38.3 percent for the game, going 5-for-16 (.313) from distance. The Mids made 11 triples in 20 tries and shot 52.6 percent overall, including a 17-for-27 (.630) in the second half. Navy also held a 34-26 rebounding edge. The Black Knights turned the ball over 17 times, leading to 23 Navy points.
Worth Smith led three Navy players in double figures with 23. Kendall Knorr added 17 points, while Venturini scored 12 points and dished out eight assists. Will Kelly led all players with nine rebounds.
Plomb scored on Army’s first possession, but the Black Knights went cold, missing their next three shots and turning the ball over once as the Mids scored 13 of the next 14 poitns. Back-to-back triples by Venturini gave Navy a 13-4 lead. Mo Williams cut the lead to seven with a layup, but a basket by Smith and two free throws by James Loupos gave Navy its largest lead of the opening period at 17-6.
A 7-2 run capped by Gramling’s three-point play pulled the Black Knights within six points, but a three-pointer by Zach Fong quickly pushed Navy lead back to nine. Herbeck punctuated a 10-4 Army run to cut the Mids’ advantage to 26-23. Navy led 30-25, but Army answered with six straight points to take re-take the lead at 31-30 after a free throw by Williams. Venturini answered, starting a 7-2 run to end the half.
Army scored the first basket of the second half to make it a two-point game, but 14-1 Navy run quickly put the Mids back in control at 51-36. Army missed all three of its shots and turned the ball over three times during that span. The Black Knights cut it to 13 after a pair of free throws, but Navy scored the next six to make it a 19-point spread.
After the Mids went ahead 59-39 after a dunk by Edwared Alade, Army scored the next five, including a three-pointer by Herbeck, but Navy thwarted any chance of a comeback by with a 13-2 run. Earl McLaurin’s third three-pointer gave Navy its largest lead at 72-46 with 5:55 left. The Black Knights were only able to get within 19 for the remainder of the contest.