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Men’s Basketball Notebook: Academies look to gain momentum heading into March

Navy still has a chance to play itself into a regular-season Patriot League title.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 15 Navy at Louisville Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Oh boy, this week was not kind to the academies.

They combined to go 1-5 as both Army and Air Force’s losing streaks rolled along. In Annapolis, Navy looked like they were sitting pretty for a top-two seed in the Patriot League tournament. That was until they lost to lowly Holy Cross on Saturday.

This is the time of year when you need as much momentum as possible, and it’s just not there for the academies. Army went from hosting a quarterfinal to sitting in the seven seed of the Patriot League which would mean another game is on the docket. With the Patriot League tournament starting next week, the test of momentum starts now.

Results

Wednesday

Colgate 100, Army 90

Navy 55, American 46

Boise State 85, Air Force 59

Saturday

Holy Cross 55, Navy 50

American 83, Army 67

No.22 Wyoming 75, Air Force 67

Schedule

Tuesday

Fresno State vs Air Force – 9 p.m. (Mountain West Network)

Wednesday

Bucknell vs Army – 6 p.m. (ESPN+)

Loyola (MD) vs Navy – 7 p.m. (ESPN+)

Saturday

Navy vs Colgate – 2 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Army vs Holy Cross – 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Air Force vs New Mexico – 4 p.m. (Stadium)

Navy

Let’s start with the good news… The Midshipmen have clinched a top 3 seed in the Patriot League Tournament and will host at least a quarterfinal on March 2nd. All they have to do to clinch a top-two seed is win a game this week.

The bad news is that the only way the Mids could have a home-court advantage throughout is a win against Loyola (MD) on Wednesday and Colgate to lose out.

Navy was put into this spot with a tough loss against Holy Cross on Saturday, 55-50. The Midshipmen shot 26% from the field and allowed the Crusaders to go on a 21-4 run, the ultimate difference-maker in the game.

They would play themselves into some chances late, but no cigar.

“You have to make baskets. You can’t shoot 26% from the floor, and we almost gave ourselves a chance to win the game,” Navy head coach Ed DeChellis said postgame.

Earlier in the week, the Midshipmen went down to DC and pulled away late to beat American by a score of 55-49. A late 10-0 run spearheaded by nine points from Tyler Nelson ultimately ended up being the difference-maker on the evening.

Army

A few weeks ago, Army was sitting pretty. It looked like they’d host a Patriot League quarterfinal, and they were well on their way to one of their best league finishes ever.

But now, the Black Knights are in the midst of a six-game losing streak and are in danger of missing out on a bye to the quarterfinals.

Army began the week out hopeful as they battled Colgate, but ultimately lost 100-90. Every time the Black Knights made a run it seemed as the Raiders did as well.

It was an excellent shooting game for both sides, as they both finished 55% from the field. Jalen Rucker led the way for the Black Knights with 29 points.

“We definitely scored enough to win, but the biggest thing is we had some breakdowns in simple closeout, and they shot the ball really well,” Army head coach Jimmy Allen said postgame.

The Black Knights would then head down to DC and get dominated by American over the weekend, 83-67. AU led by as much as 21 with 3:30 remaining.

“That was a tough one. It was the first time we didn’t compete at the level we are capable of competing since we played LIU. We have been so much better defensively. I thought American beat us to every 50-50 ball. I’m disappointed in the level of leadership in myself and our upperclassmen. We were not ready to go and didn’t compete,” said Allen.

Army currently sits a game out of the four seed, so it’s still possible that Christl Arena could host a quarterfinal.

Air Force

The season has caught up to the young Air Force Falcons as they’ve lost seven in a row.

On Wednesday, Boise State led for the final 38 minutes, shooting 74% from the field in the first half. They eased their way to an 85-59 victory.

“I’ll take the blame defensively over the last three-four games,” Air Force head coach Joe Scott said postgame, “We’ve got to come up with something to get back to how we were defensively earlier this year.”

Earlier this year, they showed it as they battled against No.22 Wyoming. Air Force lost at the buzzer and would try to get revenge on Saturday.

Wyoming dominated early, getting its lead up to 13 with 8:05 remaining in the first half. But a 13-2 Air Force run cut it down to four at the break.

In a physical second half that accounted for 29 fouls and 29 free throws, the Cowboys pulled away to make it a double-digit game with 3:00 remaining, ultimately winning by a score of 75-67.

Lucas Moerman scored a career-high 15 points for the Falcons as AJ Taylor moved into a tie for 7th place all-time in scoring with a total of 1,385 points.

Air Force will look to get back on track with games against Fresno State and New Mexico.