The Army-Navy Basketball Doubleheader highlighted the weekend for Service Academy sports. Navy Women’s and Men’s Basketball traveled north to West Point, New York to take on rival, Army West Point, in Christl Arena. Both the Women’s and Men’s teams were fairly evenly matched prior to entering the weekend.
The women faced off first, and well, the game went almost exactly how we expected. Navy came into the game with an 8-7 record, while Army held a record of 7-9. Both teams have shown great ability to play defense and force their opponents to take tough shots all game long. From the tip, both teams were playing lock-down defense.
Navy got off to a good start early and controlled the lead for the majority of the game. But Army kept it close and battled back by halftime, keeping the score within two points. Towards the end of the third quarter, Army’s senior forward, Madison Hovren, got rolling and began to dominate near the basket. Her scoring run put the Black Knights ahead by two points, 40-38, heading into the fourth quarter. Hovren continued her dominant play into the fourth quarter, aiding the Black Knights to a 10 point lead with less than three minutes to go. Hovren finished the game with 15 points and nine rebounds.
But Navy would not quit. After a two point score and a pass thrown out of bounds from Army, junior, Morgan Taylor, hit a big 3-pointer to bring the Midshipman back to within six. On the following Midshipmen possession Taylor knocked down another shot from deep to make it a one possession game. Kolbi Green of Navy, then forced Army to lose the ball out of bounds to give the Midshipmen a chance to tie the game as the clock expired.
The Army defense was too much on this final possession and the Black Knights came out on top, 55-52. This win for the Army women snapped a six game losing streak to Navy.
Men to follow
Army entered the game looking for their first win against Navy, at home, since 2012. Although Army is returning four starters from last year, the Midshipmen came into the game paying particular attention to two players on the Black Knight’s squad: Matthew Wilson and Tommy Funk. Funk is the junior captain of the team, where Wilson is the 6-foot-9 force around the rim.
Army was not worried about individual players for Navy, but rather the Midshipmen’s ability to rebound the ball on the offensive glass and play with an incredibly high level of energy all game long.
Similar to women’s game, the match was close and Navy led at halftime by a single point. By the half, the Midshipmen had a total of nine offensive rebounds which played a large role in their lead. Also similar to the women’s game, Army took the lead late in the second half, but, once again, Navy would not go away easily.
With less than two minutes left in the game, down four points, Navy had the ball along the baseline underneath the Army basket. The referee handed the ball to the Navy inbounder. After just four seconds, the referee blew his whistle and called Navy for a 5-second violation. However on the next Army possession, the referees missed a foul by Navy against Funk as he drove to the basket and gave the ball to Navy after the ball went out of bounds.
As the clock winded down, Army hit their shots in the following possessions and the Midshipmen did not. In the last 40 seconds of the game, the Black Knights scored eight points where Navy scored only one.
When it was all said and done, the scoreboard read 72-61, in favor of Army. Tommy Funk led the Army Black Knights with 22 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Additionally, Matt Wilson had 17 points. Ultimately, Navy wasn’t able to stop the two players who they knew, entering the game, were going to be impact players.
Army improves their record to 9-10 on the year, where the Navy Midshipmen fall to 6-11. Although their records are not particularly impressive, both teams still have a chance to compete for the Patriot League Championship.