CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Elon men’s basketball team put together a complete game performance on Thursday night in McAlister Field House to halt a five-game losing skid with a 70-55 victory over the host Citadel Bulldogs in Southern Conference action. Senior Drew Spradlin enjoyed yet another strong performance against the Bulldogs with 21 points to lead all scorers.
Elon (8-7, 3-1) had its best shooting performance since a December 11 contest against Lynchburg, connecting on 46 percent of its field goal attempts. The Phoenix nailed 9-of-19 (47.4 percent) from downtown. The Elon defense limited The Citadel (4-12, 1-4) to 37 percent shooting and has held opponents to under 40 percent from the field in all eight victories.
“It is good to reap the reward of hard work,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “We have lost some close games recently and this was a great team victory. We played a lot of guys tonight and played through some mistakes but we were a little bit better.”
The Phoenix led by double figures for the entire second half, going up by as many as 19 points after a 7-0 stretch to begin the final 20 minutes of play. Spradlin scored 13 points in the second half, shooting 4-of-5 from the field. Forward Lucas Troutman, who came off the bench for the first time this year, contributed 10 points and seven rebounds.
Rookie point guard Austin Hamilton netted nine points to go along with a career high six assists. He kept a clean slate in the turnover category as Elon had only 10 miscues in the contest.
Bulldog center Mike Groselle dumped in 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss.
The Citadel scored the first bucket of the game but that would be its only lead of the contest after Elon scored six of the next seven points to go on top 6-3. A stifling first-half defense held the Bulldogs to only seven field goals and 19 shot attempts.
“I thought we played well defensively,” Spradlin commented. “We did a nice job of pressuring the ball and making easy swing passes difficult.”
Elon took advantage of The Citadel’s missed shots and 10 first-half turnovers, using a 10-2 run that spanned four minutes to move ahead 27-16 after a Sebastian Koch long ball at the 5:32 mark.
The Bulldogs managed to trim the lead to seven, 27-20, when Ashton Moore connected from downtown with 3:06 to go. Koch answered back from long range and Brett Ervin swished his second triple of the half as the clock expired to put Elon ahead 35-23 at the break.
The Bulldogs would never get closer than 12 in the second half, which was highlighted by a beautiful Spradlin to Troutman lob pass on an inbounds play that resulted in a Troutman slam. The dunk put a stop to a 6-0 Citadel stretch and gave Elon a 54-40 lead with 10:14 on the clock.
The Phoenix finished the half shooting 56 percent (14-25) and knocked down 4-of-5 three-point attempts. Ten different players scored for Elon in the victory.
Elon will remain in Charleston to face College of Charleston on Saturday, January 14. The game between the Phoenix and Cougars will tip at 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3.