While Army once again put up good numbers offensively, it was the defense that pushed this game out of the Greyhounds reach with a surge of lock down play at the end of the first half.
Here is a look back at how the three keys played out in the Black Knights win:
1 – Start strong – Fail
Army did not come out all that strong in this game as both teams spent the opening minutes feeling each other out. Loyola was actually up 15-11 at one point in the early going, but that is when the Army defense took over and forced the Greyhounds into turnovers and bad shots. A quick 8-2 run by the Black Knights, which was extended to 10-2 after a Loyola timeout, gave Army a 21-17 lead at the eight-minute mark. The big run, however, was at the back end of the first half where Army used an 11 point run to turn a 25-25 tie into a 36-25 Black Knights lead as the teams headed to the locker room. With the start not being as strong ask desired it was very important that Army was able to finish the half so strongly and take all the momentum into the locker room at the half,
2 – Get to the line – Pass
Army was successful at getting to the foul line against Loyola, but converting those free throw shots proved much more problematic. The Black Knights were cold enough from three-point range that scoring in the paint became important and the bonus that came with this was more foul shots than normal. Over the first period of the game however, Army was simply woeful from the line, going 1-for-10 as a team and keeping Loyola in the game with an inability to hit the front end of one-and-one opportunities. With the game on the line however the script flipped completely and Army hit 12 straight free throws to ice the contest with Loyola never coming within eight points during the final two minutes. Plenty of this was due to the play of Tanner Plomb who hit all his free throws down the stretch and was 6-of-7 for the game.
3 – Slow down Andre Walker - Pass
Andre Walker was the Greyhounds main threat to a Black Knights victory having averaged almost 17 points per game so far during conference play. Walker actually hit right at that average, putting up 17 points on Saturday, but he did so on 5-for-17 shooting, taking a number of ill-advised shots that slowed his team’s momentum at crucial stages. Walker is a volume scorer and this was known coming into the game. During the stages where the Black Knights defense suffocated the Greyhounds special attention was being paid to Walker because if he gets hot he is a major threat. The fact that Army was able to keep him under control was a major reason why the Black Knights emerged victorious.