BETHLEHEM, PA. – With a combined 54 points from seniors Tommy Funk and Matt Wilson, the Army West Point men’s basketball team was able to edge Lehigh, 80-79, in a road Patriot League tilt on Saturday night.
The win for the Black Knights (11-10, 6-4 Patriot League) was no ordinary victory though as it represented Army’s sixth straight, the longest in league play in program history.
Funk came to play against the Mountain Hawks (5-17, 2-8 Patriot League). The Warrington, Pa., native went 10-of-14 from the field for a career-high 33 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds. His shooting performance included a career-best seven makes from long range on nine attempts.
Wilson also had himself a game, finishing with 21 points on 10-of-18 shooting to pair with nine boards. He was a key piece in the second half, pouring in 13 of his 21 in the final stanza.
Lonnie Grayson tallied 10 in the scoring column, while Nick Finke and Josh Caldwell chipped in with six and five, respectively.
As a team, the Black Knights had an efficient shooting performance on the road. Army shot 52 percent from the field and 53 percent from long range.
Turnovers hurt the Black Knights early as Army committed five mishaps while Lehigh opened play on an 11-4 run. At 14:33, Finke checked into the game and provided a spark. The third-year forward went for six points on 3-of-3 shooting to help the Black Knights close the gap and pull within two, 14-12.
After six unanswered Lehigh points, the Black Knights hit three consecutive treys as part of an 11-5 run to bring the deficit back to two, 25-23, with 6:50 remaining on the clock.
The remaining minutes of the half turned into an offensive battle as the two sides combined for 44 points. Lehigh went 8-of-8 from the field and 5-of-5 from long range, while Army shot 7-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-4 from deep with Funk putting up 12 in the scoring column.
The senior point guard knocked down a triple right before the halftime horn sounded, but Lehigh went into the break up by four, 48-44.
It took just over two minutes for the Black Knights to take their first lead of the game, 53-51, as Grayson knocked down a trey with 17:41 left to play as part of a 9-3 Army run. It was a back-and-forth battle until the Black Knights went on a 12-2 run that was sparked by a 3-pointer from Funk with 11:13 remaining.
The Army lead sat at nine, 76-67, with 6:09 on the clock, but Lehigh put in seven unanswered points to trim the deficit to two, 76-74. The game came down to the wire and Lehigh made a pair of foul shots to make it a one-point game, 80-79, with less than a minute left to play. Army came up empty on its ensuing possession, but Lehigh could not capitalize, and the Black Knights escaped with the narrow road win.
Army will return to the banks of the Hudson on Wednesday to host Boston University for a 7 p.m. league tilt at Christl Arena.