Dreadful 1st Half Dooms Black Knights

The Army basketball team played 20 minutes of sound basketball in the second half versus VMI. Unfortunately, they also played their worst 20 minutes of basketball of the season in the 1st half, and dug too deep a hole to come back from. Scoring only 12 points in the 1st half to VMI's 33, they improved significantly in the second half, but still fell short, 72-63, against the VMI Keydets Thursday evening at Christl Arena.

The only similarity between this game and their last match against Sacred Heart is that the final score did not accurately reflect the competitiveness of the match. While Army lost by 14 against Sacred Heart, they led most of the first half and played Sacred Heart very tough throughout the game. Against VMI, Army only lost by 9, but were never really even close in this one.

The VMI Keydets came ready to play, seeking revenge for a 53-49 loss to Army earlier this season Virginia. They played a fast pace on offense, running the ball upcourt as often as possible. At the same time, they pressed Army full court practically the whole game, again contributing to their overall up tempo style. This seemed to rattle the Black Knights, whose shooting was just awful in the first half. It was as if Army did not get the memo that the start time for this game was 5:30 (prelim to the womens game). Their lack of a wake up call was evident by their 3-26 field goal shooting in the 1st half.

Army scored its first field goal with over 17 minutes left in the first half, and their second bucket came with less than 5 minutes to go, an almost 13-minute drought. In the interim, VMI was very well-coached and rolled out to a 27-5 lead. Grant Carter hit a deep 3 with about a minute and a half left, and that was it for the 1st half Army scoring.

Army played much more aggressively in the second half. Army matched their total 1st half output by scoring over 12 points in a little less than 3 minutes. However, the VMI twin tandem of Chavis Holmes and Travis Holmes proved incredibly youg for Army to overcome. Chavis scored a career-high 20 points and killed Army with several long-range jumpers. Chavis' twin brother, Travis Holmes, played very well, too. Their stifling defense contributed to several Army turnovers, and this combined with Army's absolutely "colder than recent temperatures" shooting resulted in a 33-12 Keydet lead. After a very lackluster 1st half performance, the Black Knights woke up. Army tossed up a lot of shots from behind the arc in an attempt to catch up and sank a few long range jumpers to close to within 8 in the 2nd half. By this time, though, VMI stepped up their defensive intensity and took advantage of many trips to the charity stripe. Army could not get closer. Another key statistic is Free Throw percentages.

For Army, Matt Bell almost won the game singlehandedly. He hit 5 from "3-point land" in the second half alone. When the final buzzer sounded, Matt Bell had 28 points. Freshman Dan Borcherdt also helped by chipping in a career-high of 12 points, all of which were 3-point field goals. Grant Carter saw his first significant playing time of the year, and sank 2 3-pointers from well beyond the existing 3-pt line.

Army now has one more home game scheduled before the holidays begin. Army goes against SUNY New York Maritime on Saturday, 10th. This should be a relatively easy win, facing another Division III game at home. Finally, next Tuesday, Dec 20th, Army invades "Big Red" country to take on Cornell. That should be a close one. Hopefully, Army will come out fighting when the players step on the court next time.

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