American beats Army 72-60, heads to first Patriot final since ’04

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WASHINGTON (AP)—Garrison Carr scored 23 points and American weathered a ferocious Army comeback to beat the Black Knights 72-60 on Sunday, advancing to its first Patriot League championship game since 2004.

The top-seeded Eagles (20-11) scored six of their nine 3-pointers in the first half to lead 32-20 at the break, including three by Carr and two by Bryce Simon.

American led by as many as 17 in the second half, but fifth-seeded Army (14-16) cut the lead to five with 5 1/2 minutes left on a 12-2 run, highlighted by a pair of steals by Josh Miller that led to transition baskets by Marcus Nelson.

Jarell Brown hit a 3 with fewer than five minutes remaining, snipping the difference to four. But American’s Derrick Mercer then fed Nick Hendra inside for a layup that rolled around the rim and in. The Eagles went 17 for 20 from the foul line in the second half to stay ahead and snap the Black Knights’ season-high four-game winning streak.

Hendra, who filled in for Simon after he left with a knee injury late in the second half, scored a career-high 11 points and made a key 3 when the Black Knights were within four.

Jordan Nichols added 10 points and eight rebounds for American, which reached 20 wins for the 10th time in the program’s 82 seasons and will host third-seeded Colgate in the championship game Friday.

Brown led Army with 15 points and had three 3-pointers, breaking the school’s season record. Miller scored 12 and had three steals, which also eclipsed a single-season school record. Richard Cleveland added 12 points for the Black Knights, who were outrebounded 34-17.

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Sunday, Mar 9