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Men’s Basketball Notebook: Army and Navy play a game to remember in Annapolis

Army overcame the largest deficit in Patriot League history.

Army v Duke Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

I warned you all that Army–Navy men’s basketball would be a good game — but maybe not that good.

Navy went on a huge 20-0 run in the first half to take a 27-point lead on Army before the break. From there, it was the biggest comeback in Patriot League history and the sixth biggest in NCAA history, resulting in another Black Knights victory, placing them first place in the league.

Two great basketball teams playing one outstanding basketball game. People got their money’s worth in Annapolis on Saturday.

All three academies will get back to action after an interesting week.

Results:

Tuesday

Boise State 62, Air Force 56

Wednesday

Army 76, American 66

Lehigh 69, Navy 61

Thursday

Air Force 69, UNLV 62

Saturday

Army 74, Navy 73 (OT)

Colorado State 73, Air Force 53

Tuesday

Air Force 63, San Jose State 53

Schedule:

Wednesday

Navy vs Bucknell – 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Army vs Lehigh – 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Friday

Wyoming vs Air Force – 6 p.m. (Mountain West Network)

Saturday

Lafayette vs Army – 1 p.m. (ESPN+)

American vs Navy – 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Army – Navy

Coming into Saturday, Army and Navy were coming in opposite directions. One red hot, and the other ice cold. Luckily for both, they remain at the top of the Patriot League.

On Wednesday evening, Army beat American while shooting over 80% for a good bit of the second half. It was their second straight win, moving them back into the top four.

In Annapolis, Navy had dropped its second in three games, losing to Lehigh on Wednesday. This resulted in them falling out of the first-place spot they held for over a year.

Saturday, none of it mattered though. It was all about the team that was in front of them, their rival.

Navy opened the game guns-a-blazing which included a 20-0 run. They led by as much as 27 in the first half while holding a 40-18 lead at the break.

The Black Knights would still trail by 22 at the 11:46 mark of the second half but then go on a 10-0 run to make it into a four-possession game.

“As well as we played in the first half, we played the exact opposite in the second half,” said Navy head coach Ed DeChellis. ”Really frustrated. We took turns just throwing the ball away.”

The big difference is the second half was exactly that, turnovers. Army led points off turnovers by a score of 19-0 and would continue to slowly cut into the lead, going on another 10-2 run and taking the lead at the 2:00 mark with some Charlie Peterson free throws. The teams would trade some points until the ball was in Aaron Duhart’s hands to try and tie it up as regulation expired. He didn’t get off a great shot and forced overtime.

“All this came from the defensive end,” said Chris Mann postgame, “Obviously going to the press, we were able to get a lot of steals and get us out in transition.”

The teams would trade baskets in overtime as Navy led by three going into the final minute. Two Mann free throws followed by a Jalen Rucker layup gave the Black Knights a 74-73 lead with 28.7 seconds remaining.

Navy would get the ball back as time expired but a big defensive stop by the Black Knights which included a block gave Army its second victory in three attempts against Navy.

“My thoughts were just honestly, “Wow””, Army head coach Jimmy Allen said postgame, “It said a lot about the resiliency of our guys.”

This week, Navy will try and rebound with a rematch at Bucknell on Wednesday and host American on Saturday.

For Army, they will travel to Lehigh on Wednesday and look to get revenge against Lafayette in West Point on Sunday.

Air Force

Out west, it was an action-packed week for the Air Force Falcons. They played three games in five days, which included the Falcons’ first win against UNLV in their previous six matchups

Tuesday evening, Boise State put its nine-game winning streak on the line as they hosted Air Force in Idaho. The Falcons fell short by a score of 62-56 but kept it close with the ever-surging Broncos.

Boise came out of the gates early taking a double-digit lead on Air Force, but the Falcons continued to fight throughout. Trailing by 13 with 4:42 remaining, Air Force went on a 12-1 run to cut the Boise lead down to one possession with 27 seconds remaining.

The Broncos then went to the line and closed out the game, avoiding the Air Force upset victory. On the moral side, Air Force kept Boise to its lowest point total at home since 2012. This created good momentum for the Falcons going into a home tilt with UNLV, a team they lost the last five matchups to.

Air Force once again had an outstanding second half, shooting over 50% for a good majority of the game while also leading by double digits. Ethan Taylor led the way with his second double-double of the season at 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jeffery Mills had a career-high 13 points off the bench.

To end the tough week, Air Force would rematch against Colorado State after losing to them two-and-a-half weeks before, 67-59. It was much closer than it seemed.

The Rams were not all too kind this time, dominating Air Force by a score of 73-53.

Air Force really struggled from the field in the first half, scoring only 17 points. In the second half, they kept it within six but could not overcome being down 14 at the break.

This week, Air Force will visit San Jose State on Tuesday and host Wyoming on Friday. Both teams are on opposite ends of the standings as the Spartans are in last and the Cowboys in first.