WEST POINT – The Army West Point men’s basketball team (5-10, 1-1 PL) picked up its first Patriot League victory on Saturday afternoon in a 70-57 win over Holy Cross (3-12, 0-2 PL).
The first half was a defensive slugfest with neither side shooting particularly well. Army shot 34.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three. Holy Cross shot 34.8 percent from the field and 0-7 from deep.
Overcoming TJ Small and Abe Johnson’s foul trouble and Josh Scovens going 0-7 from the field in the first half, the Black Knights managed to take a 23-19 lead into the break behind six points from Charlie Peterson.
The second half saw things open up for the Cadets. Scovens, Small, Johnson, and Ryan Curry all got going. Small had 12 second half points, Curry and Scovens had nine each, and Johnson had eight. As a team the Black Knights shot 53.6 percent from the floor in the second half.
Bench play, rebounds and turnovers were key to swinging the momentum for Army. The Black Knight bench outscored the Crusaders bench 22-4. As a team Army out rebounded Holy Cross 35-27. Two in particular resulted in two massive three pointers in the second half. Off of a Scovens miss, Small made a great individual effort to snag the offensive board and a few passes later he hit a three to put Army up four after Holy Cross cut the lead to just one. Coming off a missed midrange jumper from Curry, Scovens got the board and got it back out to Curry in the corner who nailed a three to put Army back up by eight with 2:52 left. That served as the dagger as the Crusaders wouldn’t get within seven points the remainder of the game.
Another key factor was free throws. Army shot 82.4 percent from the line and Holy Cross shot 50 percent.
The Black Knights had a balanced scoring attack, out of the 12 players to touch the court, 10 of them scored.
Ryan Curry stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, five boards, five assists, and one steal. TJ Small continued his breakout season leading the way with 15 points and a team high six rebounds.
Coming into this season, Small never scored more than nine points, so far this season he has five games with 10 or more points.
The Black Knights now look to host Loyola on Wednesday Jan. 10 at 6 PM.