The Army Black Knights unleashed a deep shooting display to make the season opener for the Air Force Falcons a disappointing one Friday in West Point as Army would hold off a late comeback by Air Force to win 84-78. The win propels Army into the All-Military Classic championship game for the first time in the short history of the tournament against VMI while Air Force will play The Citadel for third place in the tournament. That game will take place at 3:30 p.m. MST.
Army shot a blistering 52 percent on 13 of 25 shooting from behind the three-point line Friday to take complete control of the game from the tip off until deep in the second half. The Army scoring combination of Kyle Wilson (25 points) and Tanner Plomb (22 points) helped the Black Knights earn a huge 71-47 lead with 11:08 remaining in the second half. After the Falcons responded with an 11-0 run to cut the lead to 71-58, Army would push the lead back to 16 before Air Force made their last ditch attempt to get back in the game. Air Force's leading scorer Max Yon (23 points) would hit a three-pointer in the corner to cut the lead to five with 43 seconds left in the game, but that would be the closest the Falcons would get as they would eventually lose by six to drop their first game of the season in four years.
The Falcons would be without the service of senior DeLovell Earls with an undisclosed injury, but sophomore forward Hayden Graham would more than make up for the missing Earls with 18 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots on the night. Graham was not the only underclassman to make a statement on the evening, as freshman guard Matt Mooney started the game for the Falcons and would end the night with a team-leading seven assist. Mooney played more of the traditional point guard role while fellow freshman Trevor Lyons would provide a backcourt scoring punch off the bench with nine points on the night.
Air Force will look to even their record against The Citadel Bulldogs Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs were defeated by VMI in the first game of the night Friday by a score of 66-65.The Bulldogs have beaten the Falcons in two of the three match-ups they have had in the series history, but Air Force defeated Citadel in 2012 with a tight 77-70 victory in the All-Military championship game that year.