Army wins Patriot League home opener versus Lafayette

WEST POINT, N.Y.  -  Ella Ellis scored 23 points, including 17 in the second half, to lead Army (8-9, 1-1 PL) to a 77-54 win over Lafayette (8-11, 1-1 PL) Wednesday night at Christl Arena. The Black Knights were able to withstand the Leopards' second-half run that cut a 21-pont lead to nine points, and outscored the Leopards 19-5 over the final 8:42.
Ellis was 6-for-10 from the field, including 3-for-6 from long range. Two of the senior's three-pointers came after the Leopards had sliced Army's lead to single digits. In addition to Ellis, freshmen Dylan Cox and Kyle Wilson both scored in double figures with 13 and 11, respectively. Cox also added four rebounds, two assists and two steals without committing a turnover in 20 minutes. Rookie Kyle Toth led the team with six rebounds from his backcourt position.
As a team, the Black Knights shot 58.1 percent, snapping a three-game losing streak in which they did not reach the 60-point mark. Army was 7-for-13 from three-point range. The Black Knights' defense forced 22 turnovers and limited the Leopards to only 36.0 percent from the field, including 21.7 percent from three-point range (5-23).
Dan Trist led the Leopards with 16 points and six rebounds, while Tony Johnson added 11 points.
After Lafayette scored first, the Black Knights scored the next 12 points, including eight by Wilson on a pair of three-pointers and a dunk, to claim a 10-pont lead. Hinrichs scored with 14:24 to go, but Army rattled off nine straight points, five by Toth, to take its largest lead of the half at 21-4 with 11:23 to go.
The Leopards halted Army's momentum with a three-pointer by Ptasinski with 10:31 remaining. The basket snapped a three-minute, 53-second Lafayette scoreless stretch. The Leopards cut their deficit to 21-9, but Army scored four straight to push its advantage back to 16 points at 25-9 with 8:32 showing on the clock.
The Leopards were able to trim their deficit to 10 points with less than a minute to go thanks to a 6-0 run, but Matt Gramling's driving layup with three seconds on the clock sent the Black Knights into the locker room with a 35-23 lead.
Army shot 61.9 percent in the opening half (13-21) and were 3-for-5 from three-point range. The Black Knights' defense limited the Leopards to 42.9 percent shooting, 2-for-8 from deep, and forced 13 turnovers that led to 15 points.
The Black Knights' lead remained at 12 points in the opening minutes of the second half, but an 8-0 run pushed Army' s lead to 20 points for the first time. The Black Knights converted a rare four-point possession when Cox ran down a steal from behind, outleted to Toth who found a cutting Larry Toomey. Toomey was taken down from behind and the officials whistled an intentional foul on the Leopards. He knocked down both free throws and Ellis scored on the ensuing possession.
Army led 53-32 when the Leopards went on a 15-3 run, including 10 straight, to cut their deficit to 55-47 with 9:03 left. The Black Knights broke the Lafayette press and Ellis drilled the first of two straight three-pointers from the left corner to re-establish a double-digit lead. Ellis's third triple of the half gave Army a 66-51 advantage with 6:30 remaining.
The Black Knights' 23-point margin of victory was their largest lead of the game, ending the contest on a 9-0 run. Four of Army's five home wins have been by at least 23 points.     
The Black Knights host arch-rival Navy on Sunday, Jan. 20 at 12 p.m. A limited number of tickets are still available. Army swept the season series versus the Mids in 2011-12, including a double-overtime thriller at Christl Arena.
Game Notes: Jordan Springer returned to uniform on Wednesday, but did not start … Springer missed the Bucknell game with a shoulder injury … Josh Herbeck missed his sixth straight game with a foot injury … head coach Zach Spiker has now defeated every Patriot League team at least once during his tenure at West Pont … the Leopards had won the last six meetings in the series … the Black Knights are 5-1 at home … Army is now 7-2 in weekday games … nine  of the 10 players that played at least nine minutes scored … the Black Knights out-rebounded the Leopards 35-25 snapping a three-game stretch of being on the short end of the rebounding margin … Army as scored at least 77 points in five of its six home games.