Nov. 14, 2014Kyle Wilson and Tanner Plomb, lifted the Army men’s basketball team to an 84-78 season opening victory over service academy rival Air Force in game two of the All-Military Classic presented by USAA.
The Army offense was on point throughout the entire game, shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and 52.0 percent from three-point range. The Black Knights’ defense forced 18 Air Force turnovers and outrebounded the Falcons 37-32. The team collected six steals and four blocks.
Of those four rejections, none were bigger than Kevin Ferguson’s block of Trevor Lyons from behind that kept Army’s lead at eight points with two and a half minutes remaining. The Falcons pulled down the offensive rebound, but Army’s defense was able to regroup and draw an offensive foul later in the possession.
From there, an empty Army trip preceded a layup by Justin Hammons that drew Air Force within six (77-71) with 1:36 to play. Wilson ran the shot clock down again before feeding a rolling Ferguson, who slammed with two hands to put Army up 79-91 with 41 seconds left.
Wilson made five of his six free throw attempts in the final minute to seal the victory for the Black Knights, who advance to the championship game of the All-Military Classic presented by USAA for the first time.
The Army junior finished with a game-high 25 points on an 8-of-14 effort from the floor, including four threes. Plomb matched his career high with six three-pointers en route to 22 points. As a team Army was 13-of-25 from distance, with Mo Williams, Luke Morrison and Tanner Omlid each hitting once from downtown.
“I thought we did some pretty good things tonight,” head coach Zach Spiker said following the game. “We came out with an attacking mindset and an obvious example of that was Tanner Plomb. Nobody was really out of their element. Our guys just did what they do well and we were fortunate to get the win.”
Plomb set the tone early by sinking back-to-back three pointers in the first minute to help Army to a lead it would never relinquish. Max Yon hit a three sandwiched in between Plomb’s early treys and went on to score a team-high 23 points for the Falcons.
Air Force kept it tight in the early minutes, tying the game at 7-7 following a jumper by Yon at 16:12. The three ball came up big again for the Black Knights as both Williams and Plomb connected on deep shots to spark a 13-2 run that put them up by 11.
The Falcons fought their way back to pull within one with just under five minutes to go following a pair of free throws from Hayden Graham (18 points). Three straight Army treys helped the Black Knights close the half on a 13-4 run and they headed into the break with a 48-38 advantage following a stepback jumper from Wilson on the final possession of the half.
The Army offense picked up right where it left off in the second half, and led by 18 points on Dylan Cox’s layup on a feed from Omlid that made Air Force call timeout (61-43). Four minutes later the lead ballooned to 24 points on a layup by Omlid and Army was up 71-47.
Yon came back and hit a three to ignite an 11-0 Air Force stretch and ultimately put together a 22-6 run before Ferguson’s block of Lyons.
Cox handed out seven of Army’s 18 assists and seven different players contributed at least five points. Ferguson put in 10 points and added team-high six rebounds.
“We just moved the ball really well all game and got great looks for everyone,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s 25 points sent him over the 20-point mark for the 24th time and pulled him within two points of 1,000 for his career.
“It means a lot beating Air Force after having tough losses the past two years, but at the same time we still have to focus,” Wilson said. “We have a game tomorrow that is the most important game for us right now. We are going to focus on VMI and be ready to play tomorrow.”
VMI edged The Citadel in the opening game of the All-Military Classic presented by USAA by a score of 66-65 and will meet Army tomorrow night at 8 p.m.