WORCESTER, Mass. – For the second straight game, Army had a chance to force overtime in the final seconds, but a Nathan Hedgecock’s three-pointer at the buzzer glanced off the rim, giving Holy Cross a come-from-behind 62-59 win in Patriot League men’s basketball action at the Hart Center on Wednesday night. The Black Knights led by as many as 17 points in the first half and owned a 12-point lead at halftime.
Army (7-16, 3-6) led 32-20 at the break, but Holy Cross (13-11, 8-1) went on a 24- 8 run over the first eight minutes of the second stanza to lead 44-40. The lead would change hands six more times in the last 12 minutes before the Crusaders came away with the three-point win.
The Black Knights have now lost three straight, all on the road, while the Crusaders have won five in a row.
The Black Knights had three players in double figures for the first time since Jan. 17. Senior F Kenny Brewer led Army with 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting, He narrowly missed his first career double-double with a career-high nine rebounds. Junior G Josh Miller added 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, a blocked shot and two steals. Junior F Cleveland Richard scored 10 points, his sixth double-digit game in the last seven outings. Hedgecock scored six points on a pair of first-half triples and grabbed a career-high six rebounds. Junior G Marcus Nelson blocked two shots to move into sole possession of second place on the Army single-season list with 24.
Andrew Keister led all scorers with 21 points, including 15 in the second half, and completed the double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds. Colin Cunningham scored 16 points, 14 of them in the second half.
After shooting only 27.6 percent in the first half, the Crusaders scored 42 points on 61.5 percent shooting (16-26) in the second 20 minutes. Army shot 63.6 percent in the first half, but connected on only 36 percent (9-25) in the second half.
Army snapped a 12-game streak of being outrebounded, holding a 33-31 advantage on the glass. It was the Black Knights’ first loss of the season (2-1) when having more rebounds than its opponent.
The Black Knights jumped out first, scoring the game’s first five points. Miller put Army ahead 5-0 on a three-pointer just one minute, 25 seconds into the game. Keister scored the Crusaders’ first basket at the 17:12 mark, but the Black Knights were able to stretch their lead to seven points at 13-6.
Holy Cross cut the deficit to five points with 11:36 to go, but Army scored the next 12 points to take a 25-8. The run was capped by the Hedgecock’s second three-pointer of the half. Keister put the stop to Holy Cross’ six-minute, 10-second scoring drought, but Army maintained a 17-point lead at 27-10.
Alex Vander Baan knocked down the Crusaders’ only three-pointer of the half to start an 8-0 run that brought them back within nine points at 27-18. Brewer pushed Army’s lead back to double digits with a free throw and finished the half with a dunk off a lob pass from Miller with only six seconds remaining in the opening stanza to send the Black Knights into the locker room with a 32-20 lead.
Brewer led all scorers with seven points in the first half. Eight of the 10 Army players that stepped on the floor in the first 20 minutes. Keister led Holy Cross with six points The Black Knights turned 11 Holy Cross turnovers into 16 first-half points.
The Crusaders came out hot in the second half, scoring the first 10 points to trim the Army lead to 32-30. Richard’s jumper in the lane stopped the Black Knights’ three-minute, 22-second scoring drought, and junior C Chris Walker hit a jumper to put Army back up by six points. Devin Brown cut the lead in half with a three-pointer at the 15:41 mark and Pat Doherty tied the score with a three just 40 seconds later.
Holy Cross took a four-point lead on a three-point play by Cunningham that was finished off by Brown when Cunningham was too injured to shoot the foul shot. Army then went on an 8-2 run to reclaim a 48-46 lead on two Brewer free throws with 9:49 left in the game. Holy Cross scored the next four points to take a two-point lead, but a Brewer run-out from Miller capped a 4-0 Army run that pushed the Black Knights ahead by a basket. Brewer’s lay in ended a stretch of five minutes and 38 seconds without a field goal. Keister’s three-point play pushed the Crusaders back in front, but Miller hit a bucket to give Army its final lead at 54-53 with 4:10 left.
Cunningham hit one of two free throws to tie it, and R.J. Evans hit a basket to give the Crusaders a 56-54 advantage. On Army’s next possession, Miller tied it and was fouled, but missed the free throw to keep the score knotted at 56-56 with 2:38 left.
Much of the final three minutes were played at the foul line. Cunningham staked the Crusaders to a 58-56 lead with a pair from the stripe before Brewer made it a one-point game with one of two from the line. Cunningham hit a pull-up jumper to give Holy Cross a 60-57 lead with 1:33 left.
Army had two cracks at three-pointers on its next possession, but both shots missed the mark. Keister missed two free throws, and Miller knocked down a pair on the other end to make it a 60-59 game with 27.8 seconds left. Brown went to the line for Holy Cross with 15.5 left and made one of two. The Black Knights grabbed the rebound, but turned it over with 5.1 seconds left. Doherty made only one of two free throws to keep it a one possession game. An Army pass was tipped out of bounds with 0.4 seconds left, setting up Hedgecock’s triple attempt in the corner of the ensuing inbounds play.
The Black Knights have now lost back-to-back games by three points or less.
Army returns home on Saturday, Feb. 14 for a Patriot League match up versus Lehigh. Tip-off at Christl Arena is set for 4 p.m.