Courtesy of goARMYsports.com
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Sophomore Kyle Wilson scored a career-high 26 points, including a three-pointer with 3:25 left that gave Army (1-2) a three-point lead, but NJIT (1-2) ended the game on an 11-4 run to claim an 89-58 win at Christl Arena Friday night. The loss spoiled the Black Knights 2013-14 home debut.
Army led by as many as 10 points in the first half and led 50-46 at intermission. The Highlanders started the second half on a 12-4 run to claim a four-point advantage with 17:14 left and built an eight-point lead with 13:19 remaining. Army used a 13-5 spurt to knot the game at 69-69, and with the game tied at 78-78, Wilson buried his fourth three-pointer of the night to give Army its last lead of the contest.
Terrence Smith’s layup with 2:16 to go put the Highlanders back on top to stay. Ky Howard provided the key play during the final minutes with an acrobatic three-point play at the end of the shot clock that extended NJIT’s lead to four points with less than 20 seconds to go. The Highlanders led by at least three the rest of the way.
Wilson’s 26 points marked his second straight 20-point effort. Senior Josh Herbeck was the only other Army player in double figures with 12 points on four three-pointers, all in the first half. Eleven different Black Knights scored at least three points. Sophomore Larry Toomey grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, while sophomores Tanner Plomb and Dylan Cox each had four assists.
Damon Lynn led four NJIT players in double figures with 27 points. Howard added 13, while Smith and Nigel Sydnor had 11 and 12 markers, respectively. Tim Coleman led the team with six rebounds.
Army shot a respectable 45.8 percent for the game, making 13 of its 39 three-point tries (.333). The Highlanders connected on 56.8 percent of their shots, making eight of their 17 attempts from distance. NJIT outscored the Black Knights at the foul line 31-18. The Highlanders took 43 free throws to Army’s 24.
NJIT quickly built a 7-3 lead, but a 10-1 Army run gave the Black Knights a 13-8 spread with 15:19 to go in the first half. The Highlanders tied the game at 13-13, but a three-pointer by Herbeck swung the lead back to the Black Knights with12:43 to go. The Highlanders again knotted the game before a 19-9 spurt pushed the Black Knights to their largest lead of the game at 36-26 with 6:01 to go. Four different players accounted for five three-pointers during Army’s run.
The Highlanders started their comeback with three foul shots by Jake Duncan that sparked an 11-2 run that trimmed Army’s lead to just one with 3:23 left in the first half. Army was able to extend back to a seven-point margin after a three-pointer by Plomb, but Lynn outscored Army 5-2 in the closing seconds, including a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Highlanders into the locker room down just four.
Army saw its first-half lead evaporate after connecting on just one of its first seven second-half field goal attempts. The Black Knights went 11-for-28 overall and 4-for-18 from three-point range after halftime.
Army wraps up its brief, two-game homestand on Tuesday when it hosts Delaware. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Christl Arena.
Game Notes: Dylan Cox made his team-leading 34th consecutive start … Jordan Kieffer made his first career three-pointer, going 1-for-2 from long range … Kevin Ferguson blocked one shot to move into a tie for seventh place on Army’s career list (44) … Army has now taken at least 31 three-point shots in all three of its games … the loss marked the first time Army lost its home opener since 2007-08 … Army is now 21-6 in non-conference home games under Zach Spiker … the Army-NJIT series is now tied at 3-3 with the Highlanders winning the last three … the last four games in the series have been decided by a total of 10 points … Army has not played Delaware since Dec. 8, 1987 … the Blue Hens have not been to West Point since Dec. 5, 1983.