Army Tops American University in Battle Of Top Patriot League Contenders
Tanner Plomb (26 points, 7 rebounds) led the Army Black Knights to an important 68 - 66 win over the American University Eagles on Monday night. (Source: Associated Press)

Last season, the American University Eagles claimed the Patriot League title and found themselves in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Again this season, the Eagles are considered a top contender in the conference, even with the loss of Tony Wroblicky from last year’s team.

The Army Black Knights entered the season with a ton of hype from in and around the conference, as they were widely considered to be a top contender in the Patriot League in 2014-15.

After slow starts in conference play for both teams, Monday night’s head-to-head tilt saw an important conference win and momentum on the line. The Army Black Knights went on the road, and scored a hard-fought 68 – 66 win over the American University Eagles in conference play inside Bender Arena on Monday night.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams struggling to find any momentum to pull away from their opponent. The largest lead for either team was just four points across the first 15 minutes of the half, and both teams took their own 4-point lead at some point throughout the half.

It wasn’t until the last two minutes of the first half where Army would stretch their lead. A Tanner Plomb three-pointer stretched the lead to 7, then a Mac Hoffman tip-in gave the Black Knights a 9-point lead. John Schoof made a three-pointer of his own for the Eagles, just before the break, to close out the first half on a high-note for the Eagles.

At the end of the first 20 minutes, Army held a 35 – 29 lead over the Eagles.

In the second half, the American University Eagles would chip away at the Black Knights’ lead over the course of the first six minutes. A John Schoof lay-up at the 14:52 mark gave the Eagles a 40 – 39 lead.

From there, American would stretch their lead to six, but Army would keep chipping away. Whenever Army would look to close the gap, the Eagles would have an answer. A pair of free throws from Kevin Panzer gave the Eagles a 57 – 49 lead with just under 7 minutes to play.

Army would chip away, and cut the deficit down to just 2 points on a Kevin Ferguson dunk with 3:15 to play. As the trend was in the second half, American always seemed to have an answer.

With just 1:45 to play in the game, Marko Vasic made a lay-up to give the Eagles a 66 – 61 lead. The game looked to be over, but nobody told that to the Black Knights.

Dylan Cox made a quick lay-up, just 8 seconds after Vasic’s lay-up, to keep Army in the game. A back-court violation by the Eagles gave the ball back to the Black Knights, and Tanner Plomb made a three-pointer to tie the game up at 66-all.

Vasic missed a lay-up for the Eagles on their next trip down, and Plomb secured the rebound to give the Black Knights a great chance to come away with a win. With just 4-seconds left on the clock, Dylan Cox made a jumper to give the Black Knights the 68 – 66 lead.

American took a timeout, then had to go the entire length of the floor if they wanted to have any chance of winning. Charlie Jones got up a long ball, but it was no good, and Army was able to come away with a much-needed, hard-earned victory on Monday night.

The Black Knights scored a 68 – 66 win over the Eagles in a battle of top contenders in the Patriot League.

On the Army side of the ball, forward Tanner Plomb scored a game-high 26 points to go along with 7 rebounds to lead the Black Knights to victory. Kyle Wilson, the Patriot League’s top scorer, added 16 points of his own in the win.

For American, four different players scored in double-figures in the loss, led by 17 points by John Schoof. Charlie Jones added in 12 points of his own, but the balanced scoring attack wasn’t enough in the end to give the Eagles their fifth conference win of the year.

For the Army Black Knights (13 – 6, 4 – 4), they are looking to keep their strong run of play going in their next game, as they take on the Boston University Terriers in their next outing. Each game in the Patriot League is important, as only 3 games separate first place from last place in the conference standings.

The American University Eagles (11 – 9, 4 – 4) are searching for answers, as the loss to Army was their second straight. Their next contest won’t be an easy one, as they go on the road to take on the Navy Midshipmen in Annapolis, MD.