Entering Tuesday night’s action, the Army West Point Black Knights were riding their second three-game winning streak of the 2015-16 season. They were coming off a road win over the Maine Black Bears to open their three-game road swing, and were looking to build on their impressive start to the reason.
They were taking on a team who has struggled to open the season. Coming in riding a six-game losing streak, the Bryant Bulldogs were looking for any source of positive momentum to get them back on the right track as the season moved along.
In a battle of two teams moving in opposite directions this season, the outcome of the contest should have come as no surprise to anyone. Despite being on the road, the Army West Point Black Knights cruised to the 77-55 win over the Bryant Bulldogs on Tuesday night in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
From the outset of the game, the Black Knights began to flex their muscle and show why they have been playing some inspired basketball as of late. They scored on their first three offensive possessions, opening up a quick 7-0 lead.
Bryant would go on an 8-0 run of their own from there, highlighted by 7 straight points from Dan Garvin to take an 8-7 lead with 13:47 to play in the opening half. That was the last time the Bulldogs would lead in the game.
Kyle Wilson followed up a three-point play from Garvin with a three pointer to put the Black Knights back in front, and that would be the start of a big offensive outburst that would be a sign of things to come the rest of the way.
The three-pointer from Wilson kick-started a 19-1 run that lasted just shy of five minutes, stretching the lead for the Black Knights to 26-9. Most of the damage was done from three point range, as Army West Point connected on five shots from long distance. A three-pointer from Tanner Plomb at the 8:42 mark ended the run, and prompted a timeout from the Bulldogs.
Credit the Bulldogs for continuing to chip away, as they reeled off a 15-6 run of their own to cut the deficit to 8. Nisre Zouzoua made his presence felt from the free throw line, going 3-of-3 from the line and scoring 7 points in the run.
A layup from Shane McLaughlin cut the deficit to just 6 in the last minute, but a three pointer from Wilson sent the Black Knights into the break with a 38-29 lead.
Bryant would open the half with two quick baskets to get within 5, but were unable to sustain the offensive pressure and get any closer. The trio of Wilson, Plomb, and Kevin Ferguson would do their part to help the Black Knights slowly pull away from the pesky Bulldogs.
A 14-3 run, that spanned from the 11:40 mark to 7:34 of the second half, opened up the game in favour of the Black Knights, and they never looked back. Bryant would never get closer than 15 points over the last 8:46 of the game, and Army West Point put things in cruise control from there.
Despite a valiant effort from the Bulldogs, the Army West Point Black Knights came away with the 77-55 win over Bryant.
Tanner Plomb was the College Court Report Preseason Player of the Year for the Patriot League, and he’s been playing like that so far this season. He continued his strong play on Tuesday, scoring a game-high 26 points to go along with 5 rebounds in the win. Kyle Wilson added 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists of his own in the win.
An under-the-radar performance that had a big impact on the game was the play of guard Dylan Cox. In 24 minutes of court time, Cox was 4-of-4 from the floor for 8 points, and he chipped in with 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the win.
As for the Bryant Bulldogs, three different players reached double-figures in the loss. Nisre Zouzoua led the way, scoring a team-high 17 points in a losing effort.
Dan Garvin and Marcel Pettway had matching double-double performances of 13 points and 10 rebounds in defeat.
The win was the fourth-straight victory for the Army West Point Black Knights (7-2), and their third double-digit victory over that span. The Black Knights look like a top contender in the Patriot League this season, especially with the early-season struggles of Bucknell, American, and preseason-favourite Lehigh. Army will head out on the road to take on the Air Force Falcons on Saturday as they look to extend their winning streak.
In the loss, the Bryant Bulldogs (2-8) saw their losing streak extended to seven games. Only two of those games have been decided by single digits. Times are tough for the Bulldogs at the moment, and don’t look to be improving any time soon, as they will go on the road to take on the Providence Friars on Saturday afternoon.