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December 31, 2012

Second half run propels Army to 95-86 win at Houston Baptist.

HOUSTON, Texas - Army (7-6) used a 30-13 second-half run to turn a five-point deficit into a 12-point lead and went on to a 95-86 win versus Houston Baptist (4-9) Monday afternoon at Sharp Gym. Senior Ella Ellis, playing in his hometown, led all scorers with 26 points, including a 15-for-16 showing at the free throw line.

Army led early, but the Huskies came back in the first half to take a six-point lead. The Black Knights closed the deficit to just one at halftime, but HBU scored the first four points of the second half to lead by five. The Black Knights trailed 42-37 with 17:44 left, but the defense limited HBU to just four field goals during the next nine minutes, 33 seconds to spark the comeback. Ellis keyed the run with 10 points, including two three-pointers. His second triple gave Army a 55-53 lead it would not relinquish.

During the decisive run, the Black Knights held HBU scoreless for a stretch of five minutes, 12 seconds, and without a field goal during a six minute, 14 second span. After a 1-for-9 start from three-point range, Army made four to help key the comeback.

Freshman Kyle Wilson scored 24 points, his second career 20-point game, and handed out a team-high six assists without committing a turnover in 30 minutes. Wilson hit 8-of-15 from the floor and was 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Sixteen of his points came in the second half. It marked the second time this season Army had two 20-point scorers in the same game. Rookie Dylan Cox contributed 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and two steals.

Tyler Russell led the Huskies with 24 points, including four three-pointers, and five assists. He posted 22 of his markers after halftime. Marcel Smith added 19 points, while Art Bernardi tallied 17 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.

After a slow start, the Black Knights knocked down 61.5 percent of their shots in the second half (16-26), and finished with a 41-30 rebounding margin, helping Army overcome 19 turnovers that led to 27 points. The Black Knights turned it over just seven times in the final 20 minutes.

Army jumped out quickly, taking a 10-1 lead, including four points by Wilson. Russell stopped HBU's four minute, 45 second stretch without a field goal to slice the lead to 10-3, but Wilson again scored to push the Black Knights' advantage back to nine points with 15:01 to go.

The Army offense cooled off for the remainder of the half as the Huskies whittled away at the lead, eventually taking a 20-18 lead on a basket by Bernardi with 7:06 to go in the first stanza. Army tied it at 20-20 on a pair of free throws by Jordan Springer, but the Huskies scored seven of the next eight points to take their largest lead of the half at 27-21 with 6:08 left.

A jumper by Kyle Toth and two free throws by Ellis brought Army back within a basket, but HBU was able to extend their lead back to five points at 33-28 following a basket by Bernardit with 1:38 to go. Ellis drained a three-pointer, snapping the Black Knights' 0-for-7 start, to make the score 33-31, but two free throws by Bernardi made it a two possession game. Cox brought Army back within a field goal, and following a free throw by Rob Lewis, Wilson nailed a baseline jumper with only three seconds left to send Army into the locker room down 36-35.

HBU claimed a 42-37 lead early in the second half when both teams warmed up from three-point range. Freshman Larry Toomey hit the first of his two triples to pull Army within one possession and Wilson tied the game, but Russell answered with a three of his own. The teams made three-pointers on the next five possessions. Toomey and Ellis made one each for the Black Knights, while Russell stroked three straight for the Huskies.

Ellis's second three-pointer of the half gave Army a 55-53 lead with 11:31 left and sparked a 12-0 run that established a 64-53 lead. Two free throws by plebe Kyle Toth following a technical foul gave Army a 67-55 advantage with 8:55 left.

HBU pulled within seven points, but a 7-0 run re-established a 14-point Army lead. The Black Knights held an 86-71 advantage with 1:07 left, but the Huskies were able to rally and trim the deficit into single digits. Army scored its last nine points from the line, going 9-for-10 in the closing minute of action. The Black Knights were 33-for-42 at the stripe for the game.

Army has scored at least 90 points in three of its last four games. The victory was Army's highest-scoring road game decided in regulation since a 122-100 loss at Holy Cross during the 1987-88 season. The win also snapped Army's five-game losing streak on the road.

Army will play the first of its two remaining non-conference games on Saturday, Jan. 5 when the Black Knights host Columbia. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. The Black Knights have won eight straight non-conference home games at Christl Arena.

Game Notes: Army used the starting five of Dylan Cox, Kyle Toth, Ella Ellis, Larry Toomey and Jordan Springer for the seventh consecutive game … former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy was in attendance … Van Gundy spoke to the Black Knights after their morning film session on Sunday … Army needs a win in one of its last two non-league games to clinch its third .500 or better record in the last four seasons during pre-conference play … Jordan Springer and Kyle Toth led the team with six rebounds each …. the Black Knights are now 7-3 this season when outrebounding their opponent … Ellis moved into 15th place on Army's all-time scoring ledger (1,271) … Army already has seven games this season scoring at least 80 points, its highest total since the 2000-01 squad did it nine times … Kyle Wilson averaged 19.5 points during the two-game Texas trip.


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