The second half was also played evenly for about 7 minutes. Colin Harris hit a turnaround 12-ft shot and Matt Bell scored a nice lay-up coming across the middle for a 29-26 lead. Army continued to exchange baskets with Sacred Heart and led 37-34 with a little over 13 minutes left in the game. Then, Sacred Heart really started to pound the ball inside, taking advantage of their size and athleticism down low. Jarrid Frye scored a traditional 3-point play off of a lay-up to tie the game at 37-37, and dunked the ball off a nice feed from Drew Shubik to put the Pioneers ahead to stay, 39-37. It was at this point that Army seemed to run out of gas. They were forcing up shots and were no longer hitting them, and appeared tired and a step late on defense. Kibwe Trim hit another traditional 3-pt play off a layup to extend the lead to 47-41. Matt Bell hit a nice 8-footer to keep the game within 6, 51-45. However, Sacred Heart reeled off an 11-point run, capped by a resounding dunk by Trim off a nice pass from Tavio Hobson to make it 62-45 and ice the game away. Army started to pick it up on offense at the end, but had to put Sacred Heart on the line several times, and the Pioneers hit their free throws. In fact, the Trim dunk was the last field goal of the game for Sacred Heart, as they added their final 14 points from the charity stripe to make the final 76-62.
For Sacred Heart, Kibwe Trim was just too much to handle for Army on the inside. The senior center paced the Pioneers with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jarrid Frye is a 6-4 guard who played like 6-7, scoring several of his points on the inside or at the free throw line after getting fouled on a drive. An unsung hero for the Pioneers was definitely Tavio Hobson. The Boston College transfer hurt the Black Knights several times with his outstanding penetration, made several nice pass plays and also contributed 3 steals.
Matt Bell led the Black Knights in scoring with 15. Corban Bates had the best overall game of any of the Cadets, scoring 13 points and pulling down 5 boards. Colin Harris followed his superlative Friday night effort with another double digit game (12 points).
As we get closer to the start of the Patriot League season, it is obvious this Army team is going to be much more competitive than it has been over the last 3 years. Its shooting is markedly improved, and the team seems to have more than just the one scoring option (Matt Bell) that it has had the last few years. Some of the freshmen, particularly Dan Borcherdt and DJ Jemibewon, show a lot of promise of contributing significant playing time this season. If there is an area of improvement that still warrants attention, the internal Army defense and play of some of the frontline needs to get better. Their key big men seem either a step too slow, or a little inexperienced, and other teams will exploit this weakness (as Sacred Heart did tonight) if there is no improvement.
Army now plays its next 2 games at home. They host the Keydets of VMI on Thursday, Dec 8th. The Keydets will be looking to avenge a 53-49 loss to the Black Knights earlier this season, and Army cannot take them lightly. Then, on Saturday, Dec 17th, Army hosts Division III NY Maritime in what should be their last easy game of the year.