Rucker, Caldwell Lift Black Knights Over Hawks

DURHAM, N.C. – Jalen Rucker and Josh Caldwell combined for 53 points as the Army Black Knights defeated the Hartford Hawks, 86-79, in their final game at the Duke Veterans Day Weekend Showcase presented by Ameritas on Saturday.

The Black Knights, who battled No. 9 Duke into the second half last night, powered through the final stages of the second half to come out on top over Hartford. The backcourt tandem of Jalen Rucker and Josh Caldwell provided the bulk of the scoring as Army had a season-high in points behind a season-best 12 triples.

Army relied on the 3-pointer to build its first-half lead. The Black Knights connected on 3 of 5 3-pointers for a 13-6 lead. Rucker, who set a career-high with five 3-pointers against Duke on Friday night, continued his shooting touch by making his first four 3-point attempts. Rucker also connected on 3-pointers on consecutive possessions for Army’s largest lead of the half, 26-11, with nine minutes left. After Hartford cut Army’s to 34-29, the Black Knights responded with captains Josh Caldwell and Aaron Duhart contributing to a 7-2 run for a 41-31 lead with one minute remaining in the half.

Army increased its lead to 54-38 early in the second half with Rucker and Caldwell combining for 13 points. Rucker connected on his eighth 3-pointer of the game as Army led 68-56 with nine minutes remaining. However, the Hawks reeled off eight straight points over the next three minutes. Caldwell, then, had one of the key plays of the game when he intercepted a pass and scored a layup to halt the run. On Army’s next possession, he drained a 3-pointer as the Cadets led 73-65 with four minutes left. Duhart hit a 3-pointer to regain Army’s double-digit lead at 77-67 with 2:46 left and the Black Knights went into the final minute with a double-digit lead.

Army coach Jimmy Allen, said he was “Very pleased with how our guys responded. When you play last night at seven o’clock and get done late with a game against somebody the caliber of Duke, turning around quickly is certainly a challenge and I thought our guys really responded. I thought they were up for the challenge. We talked about prior to the game that the tougher team was going to win this basketball game and at 2:30 we needed to find a way to be the tougher team and I thought our guys did that over the course of the game. Certainly, Hartford is an NCAA Tournament team from last year and return a lot of really good players. I think they’re very well coached, Coach Gallagher does a great job, and they present some matchup problems. Hunter Marks at the four and the five can really shoot it. I thought we did enough today to win the basketball game.”

The Black Knights return to Christl Arena to host Merrimack on Wednesday, November 17 at 6 p.m.

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