The Army West Point Black Knights came into Patriot League play looking like the top team in the conference. A win over the Monmouth Hawks highlighted a rather impressive non-conference slate for the Black Knights.
Once the calendar switched to 2016, the Black Knights haven’t been themselves. Tanner Plomb has continued his strong play, and his steak of double-digit performances that date back to last season, but the results for the team as a whole don’t match up.
Entering Wednesday night’s date with the Colgate Raiders, the Black Knights were sitting at 2-2 in conference play, and were looking to get a shot of positive momentum to propel them back into contention for the conference title.
If they wanted to knock off the Raiders, they were going to have to do so without Plomb in the lineup. John Emezie took his place in the starting lineup, and the Black Knights were right with the Raiders after the first half.
Colgate pulled away in the second half, and the Raiders scored the 80-66 win over the Army West Point Black Knights.
Despite being without their star, the Black Knights didn’t miss a beat on offense early on in the first half.
Army and Colgate would trade baskets for the first seven minutes of the game before the Black Knights would push ahead and take a 4-point lead, which would be their largest of the game. Dylan Cox hit a lay-up at the 11:39 mark to give Army the slim 19-15 lead.
From there, it was all about the Raiders, as they looked to capitalize on a short-handed Army squad.
Following the lay-up from Cox, the Raiders went on a 9-4 run to take a 24-23 lead, and they would never trail the rest of the way. A three-pointer from Austin Tillotson capped off the run for the hometown Raiders, putting them in front for good.
Colgate would push their lead to as many as 5 in the first half, but Adam Roe would hit a three-pointer for the Black Knights to keep them within striking distance as the half came to a close. Army trailed by 4 at the break, and put themselves in a great spot to come away with the win when all was said and done.
In the second half, Colgate came out on a mission and put an end to Army’s hopes of a road victory in conference play.
The Raiders would build their lead as the half wore on, never allowing Army to get closer than 2 points in the half. Colgate’s lead reached as many as 24 points, as Sean O’Brien connected on a lay-up off an Army turnover to give the Raiders a 72-48 lead with 8:46 to play.
Army would keep fighting as the game wore down, closing out the contest on an 18-8 run to make the score somewhat closer. But, the effort was too little, too late, as the Raiders had sealed the victory much before the offensive spurt by the Black Knights.
After Tillotson hit a jumper at the 2:21 mark of the second half to push Colgate’s lead to 80-66, both teams didn’t make another field goal in the game.
After a big second half, Colgate came away with the 80-66 win over the Army West Point Black Knights.
In Plomb’s absence, Army needed others to step up on the offensive end of the floor to offset the loss in production that would be missing with their star not suiting up. As a whole, the team struggled on the night, shooting 39.3% (22-of-56) from the floor in the game.
John Emezie recorded 6 points and 2 assists while playing 19 minutes in Plomb’s spot in the lineup, which is a far cry from what Plomb usually averages. Forward Larry Toomey and Dylan Cox each scored 12 points in the loss, while Kevin Ferguson was held off the scoreboard.
For the Colgate Raiders, the team shot 53.4% from the field, giving themselves a good shot at the win from the outset. Austin Tillotson scored a game-high 18 points to go along with 2 rebounds and 3 steals.
Forward Jordan Swopshire added 14 points of his on, while Sean O’Brien added 11 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals for an all-around strong performance.
Not having Tanner Plomb in the lineup hurt the Army West Point Black Knights (11-6, 2-3) on both ends of the floor. The loss puts them 3 games behind the Bucknell Bison, who currently led the conference. The Black Knights will look to get back on track on Saturday afternoon when they take on the American Univ. Eagles.
The Colgate Raiders (7-9, 3-2) capitalized on a short-handed Army team on Wednesday night, and cruised to another big victory in conference play. Colgate and the Loyola (MD) Greyhounds are both over .500 in conference play this season, but are both under .500 on the year as a whole. Colgate will look to keep things rolling on Saturday when they head on the road to take on the conference-leading Bucknell Bison.