The Black Knights continued their mid-season slide on Wednesday night with a disappointing loss in Worcester, Massachusetts against Holy Cross. Army was once again playing without Tanner Plomb, who has been the best player in the Patriot League this season, and without Plomb in the lineup, the Black Knights just don't have that dynamic scoring threat. Frustratingly, the Black Knights put themselves in a position to win this game, before a poor second half killed any chance of that happening.
Here is a look back at what went wrong with the three keys:
1. Keep up the defense - Push
The way Army started this season you would have backed the Black Knights to win any game that they held an opponent under 70 points in. Thus, it is hard to say that it was the defense that cost Army this game. If we are going to be picky the Black Knights let two players beat them as center Malachi Alexander and forward Karl Charles each scored 20 points. On the flip side of that Army was able to shut down the rest of the Crusaders options with no other player contributing more than seven points. Alexander was the biggest problem as he went 7-of-12 from the field, while Charles did most of his damage at the line, going 11-of-14 from the charity stripe and accounting for more than half of his points that way.
2. Rediscover the three-point touch - Fail
The most noticeable drop off since Plomb has been out of the lineup (taking his own scoring out of the equation) is the way that the Black Knights shooters have stopped hitting three-point shots. This was the second game in a row where the normally prolific Black Knights, who averaged over 10 threes a game before last Saturday, have had only six makes from downtown. Against Holy Cross the Black Knights shot 6-of-21 (28-percent) from three-point range, with Kyle Wilson again unable to find his shot as he personally went 2-of-10 from behind the arc. With Plomb out the defense is able to press the shooters more as they are not worried about anyone hurting them in the paint and every shot is contested. Army died by the three ball on Wednesday night.
3. Get a run on - Fail
Army had an 11-4 run to start the game and a 9-1 run to close the first half out, but the Black Knights never got on a run that would put the game out of the Crusaders reach. Up 40-32 at halftime the game was there to be controlled as a quick run to open the second half would surely have finished off a Holy Cross team that was low on confidence coming into the game. Unfortunately, this just did not happen as the Black Knights had four missed shots and three turnovers before scoring a point in the second half. Even down the stretch, Army had chances to put this one away but again missed shots and turnovers proved to be too much to overcome.