Men’s Basketball storms back to defeat La Salle

December 13th, 2020 | Sports
Junior guard Aaron Duhart (right) celebrates with teammate senior Nick Finke after Duhart went on a run in the second half scoring 10 of his team-leading 12 points to help Army West Point defeat La Salle 63-59 Sunday at Christl Arena. Photo by Army Athletic Communications

By Nick Lovera
Army Athletic Communications

After a slow start, Army overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat La Salle 63-59 Sunday at Christl Arena.
“I am really pleased with how our team responded today,” Head Coach Jimmy Allen said. “That was a culture win as much as anything. Our team got off to a slow start against a terrific program and we continued to fight. What impressed me was that we didn’t try to get it all back at once. We stayed at it and continued to fight, and we crept back into it and got the victory.”
La Salle took a 31-23 lead into the half before the Black Knights stormed back, shooting 59% from the field in the second half to fuel the comeback.
Junior guard Aaron Duhart was the catalyst of the surge, going 4-6 from the field and scoring 10 of his team-leading 12 points in the second half. The trio of Duhart, senior guard Lonnie Grayson (12 points) and freshman guard Jalen Rucker (10 points) continued Army’s streak of having three double-digit scorers through four consecutive games.
The Black Knights (4-1) are off to their best start to a season since opening up the year 5-0 in 2014-15.
The win is Army’s first over an Atlantic 10 opponent since defeating Penn State in the 1977-78 season under Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“I think it’s our culture,” Duhart said. “We have a group of guys who are really unselfish, and we all love to see each other succeed and that is really infectious. It helps pick us up when we are losing and helps us stay ahead when we have a lead.”
The Black Knights will head into the holiday break with their sights set on conference play. Army is scheduled to open up the Patriot League season at Colgate on Jan. 2.

Highlights and notes
• Army’s 4-1 start is the team’s best since opening 5-0 during the 2014-15 season.
• The win is Army’s first over La Salle since the 1986-87 season and the first over an Atlantic 10 opponent since the 1977-78 season.
• Three Black Knights recorded double-digit points for the fourth consecutive game.
• Duhart scored 10 of his team-leading 12 points in the second half.
• Twenty-one of Army’s 40 points in the second half came off the bench.
• After shooting just 31% from the field in the first half, the Cadets stormed back by shooting 59% in the second half.

How it happened
First half
• The Black Knights struggled early in the contest, as La Salle opened the game on an 8-0 run.
• The Explorers would stretch the advantage to 15 at the midway point of the half, before Army cut the deficit to eight at the break.
• Twelve of Army’s 23 points in the half came from inside the paint.

Second half
• Army began to chip away at the La Salle lead early in the second half before going on an 9-0 run to jump ahead for the first time with 12:52 remaining in the game.
• Senior guard Tucker Blackwell capped off the run with a corner three-pointer off a La Salle turnover.
• Army would continue to push the offense, stretching the lead to as many as 10 with a 24-6 run.
• La Salle fought back late in the half, cutting the Army lead to two with 2:08 remaining.
• The Black Knights pushed the lead back to seven into the final minute after junior guard Josh Caldwell fought to the basket for a layup and Duhart knocked down a three with 34 seconds remaining.
• La Salle would again bring the game within two with 20 seconds left before Army forced a key turnover with four seconds remaining to seal the victory.