WEST POINT - Despite not playing a game for 17 days, Army women’s basketball looked rust-free as the Black Knights defeated Bryant, 67-51, on Sunday afternoon at Christl Arena. Freshman point guard Kelsey Minato led Army with a career-high 24 points, including her second five three-pointer game of the year, as the Black Knights improved to 10-3 to close out the calendar year.
Minato shot a blistering 80 percent from the floor (8-for-10), including 5-of-7 on attempts from beyond the arc, to lead the Army shooting corps which eclipsed the 40-percent mark for the fifth time this season and second game in a row. The Black Knights improved to 5-0 on the season when making more than 40 percent of their shots, as Army recorded a clip of 41.4 percent against the Bulldogs, their third-best showing of the season.
Bryant (4-6) scored first in the game just five seconds in for its only lead in the first half as Army broke off a 16-3 run, spanning nine minutes, to give the Black Knights a 27-12 advantage with 6:44 remaining in the stanza. The Bulldogs battled back, however, as Army went cold from the floor, going nearly nine minutes without a field goal as the Black Knights’ lead shrunk to three, 27-24, with under a minute to play in the half. Following a technical foul assessed to Bryant’s bench, Minato made a trio of free-throws, followed by a jumper by sophomore Olivia Schretzman, as Army led at the half, 32-26.
Schretzman and Minato combined to push Army’s lead to nine to begin the second, before Bryant rallied for a 10-1 run of its own to earn its first lead since the opening seconds of the game. Schretzman, who finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, scored two straight buckets to regain the lead for Army which would never be relinquished.
Army’s lead swelled to as much as 18 with under three minutes to play as sophomore Krishawn Tillett added a career-high six points and senior Anna Simmers chipped in a quiet 13 points. Junior Jen Hazlett tacked on six points, five rebounds and a career-high seven assists. The seven helpers are the most by a Black Knight since Nov. 23, 2011, when Molly Yardley was credited with seven dishes. Freshman Aimee Oertner led the Army rebounding contingent which won the battle of the boards for the 10th time this season. Oertner collected nine of Army’s 45 caroms.
The Bulldogs were led by Jenniqua Bailey who tallied 17 points and five rebounds, while Naana Ankoma-Mensa registered 12 points and eight rebounds.
"I’m very pleased with the way we responded after Bryant came back and took the lead in the second half," said Army head coach Dave Magarity after the game. "I was disappointed in our first half, there were two huge runs, the way we finished the first half was disappointing after playing so well at times. That’s a problem with this team, it’s a problem when you have young players, I need our older kids to step up and be leaders and take over. Schretzman, Simmers and Hazlett need to get into our younger kids’ heads and ears and step up.
Army will hit the road for its final two nonconference games of the year as the Black Knights travel to Brown on Wednesday and Morgan State on Sunday. Tip-off in Providence, RI, against the 4-6 Bears is slated for 6:00 p.m.