ELON, N.C. – A stingy second-half defensive performance by Elon lifted the Phoenix men’s basketball team to a 77-70 victory over the visiting Furman Paladins in the Southern Conference opener at Alumni Gym on Wednesday night. Elon (4-2, 1-0) got a season-high 20 points from senior Drew Spradlin and sophomore Ryley Beaumont was just one point away from a double-double with nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
The victory was the first by Elon in a conference opener since a 59-49 victory over Western Carolina on November 27, 2007.
“Tonight was the epitome of a conference game in November,” stated Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “It was hard fought and we competed just well enough to pull off the victory. Our program is still climbing and any time we can get a conference win, we feel really good about that.”
After giving up 46 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes, Elon held Furman (3-3, 0-1) to 14-of-40 (.350) from the field and 4-of-16 (.250) from downtown in the second stanza. The Paladins shot below 40 percent for the game while the Phoenix connected on 25-of-54 (.463).
Spradlin knocked down 8-of-13 in 32 minutes. Freshman point guard Austin Hamilton dumped in 11 points on 7-of-10 from the free throw stripe and dished off four assists while keeping a clean turnover slate. Sophomore guard Jack Isenbarger contributed 13 points, hitting three buckets from beyond the arc.
Furman’s Charlie Reddick led all scorers with 22 points, knocking down 6-of-10 from three-point land. Brandon Sebirumbi also added 11 points.
After a 10-3 run to close the half gave the Phoenix a six-point edge at the break, Elon extended its advantage to 51-43 with 11:49 remaining. But, the Paladins pushed back and used a 14-7 stretch of their own to make it a one-point game, 58-57, as a Reddick three capped the run at the 7:49 mark.
Elon answered with a Spradlin trey that sparked a 7-0 Phoenix run and beautiful drive to the basket by Sebastian Koch gave the home team a 65-57 lead with under four minutes to play. The Phoenix held Furman without a field goal for over six minutes and the Elon crowd moved to its feet as Spradlin drove to the rim before kicking out to Isenbarger for a three ball that put the Phoenix on top, 68-58, with 2:29 on the clock.
Elon would grow its lead to as many as 13 points with 1:06 to play and while Furman capitalized on some late missed Phoenix free throws, the Paladins would claw no closer than five before the horn sounded.
Furman held a slight 38-37 advantage on the glass while Elon make 30 trips to the line compared to only 13 by the Paladins. The Phoenix netted 18 points off 11 Furman turnovers. Sophomore forward Lucas Troutman followed up a 22-point performance at NC State last week with a solid nine points, five rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes of action.
Elon welcomes Navy to Alumni Gym this Saturday afternoon as the Phoenix aims to remain unbeaten at home. The Phoenix and Midshipmen will tip at 2 p.m. as part of a double header with the Elon women. The women’s team will battle preseason SoCon favorite Chattanooga at 7 p.m. on Saturday.