GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team captured its sixth straight win on Thursday night, Jan. 31, defeating the UNCG Spartans, 72-66, inside the Greensboro Coliseum.
Elon improves to 14-7 (7-2 Southern Conference) on the year and remains atop the North Division with the victory, while UNC Greensboro falls to 7-13 (4-5 Southern Conference) with the setback.
“We are excited to come out of this game with a victory in a difficult environment and against a very talented team,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “[UNC Greensboro] defended us well and forced us into a lot of turnovers, which is unusual for us. I thought we rebounded the ball well and fought hard to contest shots against their talented scorers and a tough offense to guard. We’re thrilled with the win.”
Despite an uncharacteristic shooting night for most of 40 minutes, Jack Isenbarger came up with a clutch three-pointer for the Phoenix with 1:31 remaining after connecting on his only field goal make of the game to give his squad a 68-66 advantage.
The maroon and gold defense buckled down on the next possession, forcing a turnover by the reigning Southern Conference Player of the Week, Trevis Simpson, to retain the lead and not relinquish it down the stretch.
Lucas Troutman and Ryley Beaumont sunk key free throws in the waning moments, going 4-of-4 at the line with less than 30 seconds remaining to help the Phoenix to its sixth consecutive win overall and sixth straight win over the Spartans.
Troutman finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and a 7-of-8 clip at the free throw line. Troutman, who has scored in double figures in 20 straight games, enters Saturday’s game with 995 career points and will look to join Isenbarger as the second Phoenix player to reach the 1,000-point plateau this season. Troutman also finished with three blocks to move ahead of Bernard Torain for second in Elon history, as the Belton, S.C., native now has 134 blocked shots in his career.
Beaumont and Tanner Samson were the only other Elon players in double figures, as both ended the night with 12 points. All of Samson’s makes came from long distance.
Elon led by as many as 10 points in the opening frame, taking a 39-29 lead into the locker room at intermission.
Troutman led all players with 11 first-half points, while Samson dumped in nine on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. As a team, Elon shot 43 percent from the field in the first half on 13-of-30 field goal attempts.
The Spartans tied the game with 14:57 remaining and forced a Phoenix timeout after a jumper in the paint by Kayel Locke knotted it at 42-all.
With the shot clock winding down, Josh Bonney helped Elon take a 55-46 lead with 9:09 remaining and force a Spartans timeout after finding Beaumont underneath the basket for an easy layup.
Simpson gave the Spartans a one-point lead with 7:03 remaining after hitting a deep three from the wing to make it a 56-55 game and cap a 9-0 run for his squad. The lead marked the Spartans first since the 7:12 mark of the first half.
Following Isenbarger’s three-pointer with 1:31 to play, the Phoenix got a big stop after forcing Simpson to turn the ball over after he drove into the lane with authority with 1:21 remaining.
The Phoenix returns to Alumni Gym on Saturday night, Feb. 2, when it hosts Samford in another key North Division contest. Tip is slated for 7 p.m.