Second-Half run pushes Army to 4-0 Start

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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Army held Marist without a field goal for more than nine minutes in the second half and used a 13-0 run to pull away from the Red Foxes in a 76-62 win on Saturday night at McCann Arena.

Three players scored in double figures for Army as the Black Knights improved their record to 4-0 for the first time since the 1978-79 season when Mike Krzyzewski held the position of head coach.

Kyle Wilson reached 20 points for the 25th time in his career, Tanner Plomb put in 17 points and Dylan Cox netted 13 to go along with four assists. Rookie Luke Morrison scored nine, the most in his short career, while Tanner Omlid added four steals, matched his career high with three blocks and pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.

As a team, Army forced Marist into 22 turnovers and gave it away 11 times. Chavaughn Lewis led all scorers with 22 points in a losing effort. After shooting 64 percent (16-of-25) from the floor in the first half, Marist was limited to 23.1 percent (6-of-26) after halftime.

“We are a pressure team, no matter who we play,” head coach Zach Spiker said of Army’s defense. “We didn’t get any stops in the first half. Mike Maker is a great coach with a great scheme. Some of the concepts are similiar to what we do, but it didn’t matter if we knew it or not, we just didn’t guard it in the first half. In the second half, I thought the bigger stretch than the 13-0 run was that we had a number of consecutive defensive stops which had to do with our ball pressure and rebounding.”

Early on, a steal by Wilson on Marist’s inbounds play led to a fastbreak finish at the rim by Plomb and the three-point play pulled Army within a point at 12-11. Marist came back with the next eight points to take its largest lead (nine) of the half. Army’s next time down the floor, Plomb got into the middle of the Marist zone and was fouled as he put in an elbow jumper. The free throw was good and Army trailed 20-14.

Marist maintained the lead for most of the remainder of the opening period and led by seven (37-30) when Connor McClenaghan converted an old-fashioned three-point play with four minutes to go. Army went on to score 11 of the final 15 points of the half, including a baseline jumper by Morrison that put Army ahead 41-39 for two of seven first-half points. Lewis’ transition slam ended the scoring and the two sides went into the break knotted at 41 apiece. Lewis led Marist with 18 points and Plomb had 15 for Army at that point.

No one led by more four points through the midpoint of the second half and Marist went up 59-55 after consecutive successful trips to the line by Hart. From that point, Army made its run.

The Black Knights scored 13 straight points over a 6:25 span to go ahead 68-59 following a pair at the line by Mo Williams. Morrison’s free-throw line jumper started the run before Wilson and Cox each converted twice from the charity stripe. The play of the game came when Omlid came up with a loose ball near midcourt and raced ahead to the rack where he slammed for two with his left hand. He was fouled on the play and drained the free throw to make it 64-59. Kevin Ferguson tipped home a miss moments later and Mo Williams converted twice at the line to end the run.

“It all started with Ferguson’s ball pressure,” Omlid said of the steal and critical dunk. “The ball came right into my hands and I went behind my back with my dribble before going up. I knew if I laid the ball up I was going to get my shot blocked, so I risked it and it ended up working out well.”

The Black Knights never looked back after Wilson added two more at the line and Cox’s layup pushed the advantage to 12 with 1:40 to go.

Army returns home to Christl Arena on Tuesday evening to host Binghamton in the second half of a doubleheader. The Army women’s basketball team plays Air Force at 5 p.m. before the men’s 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

Game Notes:

Army held Marist without a field goal from the 11:55 mark until Lewis’ layup with 2:19 to play.

Marist’s 23 turnovers are the most Army has forced since Boston University had 23 on Jan. 29, 2014.

Luke Morrison set season highs in points (9) and steals (2).

It is the first time Army has opened the season with four straight wins versus current Division I opponents since 1939. The team was directed to a 5-0 start by head coach Leo Novak with wins over Brown, Maryland, Columbia, Cornell and Lafayette.

It is Army’s second straight win over Marist and the team improved to 2-0 against the Red Foxes under Zach Spiker.

Army is one of two Patriot League teams without a loss. Holy Cross is 2-0 and hosts Nichols on Nov. 23.

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