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Patriot League Review: Holy Cross Knocks Off Army, Two Unbeaten Teams Remain

Four games on Wednesday night were decided by a total of 14 points, with just one decided by more than one possession. The most unpredictable league in the country held up its end of the bargain once again.

Malachi Alexander finally broke through against Army and scored 16 points.
Malachi Alexander finally broke through against Army and scored 16 points.
Gregory Shamus

Down goes Army! The Crusaders finally got a big game from Malachi Alexander off the bench as the freshman poured in 16 point to support four-of-five starters who scored in double digits. Malcolm Miller scored six of his 17 points in the last three minutes to lead the way as the Crusaders got their second win and handed Army its first loss.

Tanner Plomb and Kyle Wilson maintained their reputation as one of the highest-powered backcourts in the conference as they scored 29 and 17 points, respectively. The Black Knight's 15 bench points couldn't match Alexander's 16 though, and probably spelled the difference in this one.

Alexander is the X-Factor for Holy Cross, and this game does nothing to disprove that. Wednesday was his first double-digit scoring effort since Dec. 4 at Albany when he scored 10 points and the 16 points were more than what he had managed through the first four Patriot League games (14). If he can maintain a high level of play and make defenses respect him when he's on the floor, it will go a long way towards keeping Holy Cross in this race until the very end.

Man, did Navy really try to lose this one or what? Leading by 11 with 3:01 to play, the Mids were held scoreless for the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Bucknell stormed back to within one before finally ceding on the last possession when a Chris Hass three fell off the rim into the hands of James Loupos. Hass scored six of his 11 points during that stretch, the other hoops coing from Steven Kaspar and Brian Fitzpatrick.

Navy might actually be the team that best personifies the unpredictability of this league. After a debacle of a performance against BU the Mids took Army to the brink and then knocked off Bucknell. That's a 1-2 record during what could be one of the toughest three-game stretches of their schedule and to do it without Tillman Dunbar is a testament to Ed DeChellis' coaching. Brandon Venturini and Worth Smith were the lone Navy players in double digits, scoring 14 and 13 points respectively.

A pair of late threes by Jesse Reed saw American first break a 57-57 tie on the road, then extend that lead to six and keep the Eagles unbeaten. John Schoof scored 23 points and Tony Wroblicky did his usual score-sheet stuffing thing (14 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals), but it was Reed's late heroics that helped American avoid Army's fate and drop to 4-1.

Lehigh's Mackey McKnight continued his high-scoring ways with 23 points and added 10 assists and eight rebounds for one of his best all-around performances of the year. Tim Kempton struggled, shooting 4-for-14 on the day, which left McKnight almost alone in terms of scoring. Corey Schaefer's 12 points were some help, but not quite enough.

Much like Navy, Lehigh has been one of the toughest teams to read. At times they look like a top-three squad, but then they go and lose a tough game. Life is tough in the Patriot League, and nobody knows that more than Lehigh.

Other Patriot League Action

  • On Monday the Loyola Greyhounds gave the Lafayette Leopards a 14-point loss behind another huge scoring game from Dylon Cormier. The volume-scoring guard's 25 points and 11 rebounds sparked the Greyhounds on offense en route to a 77-63 win. The Leopards have to just hope Seth Hinrichs can come back before things get too dire, but that time is coming very, very soon for Fran O'Hanlon's squad.
  • The lone multiple-possession game on Wednesday night was behind the unbeaten BU Terriers and the winless Colgate Red Raiders. Mo Watson scored 20 points and added six assists and five rebounds to lead the way for BU, while Murphy Burnatowski poured in 27 for Colgate. Dom Morris scored 15 for BU and was the only other player to score in double digits in this game.

Patriot League Standings

Team Record (Conference) Record (Overall)
American University 5-0 9-7
Boston University 5-0 12-6
Army 4-1 8-8
Bucknell 3-2 8-8
Loyola-Maryland 3-2 8-8
Holy Cross 2-3 8-9
Navy 2-3 7-9
Lehigh 1-4 8-10
Colgate 0-5 6-10
Lafayette 0-5 4-12