Second Half Rally Pushes Elon MBB Over Kennesaw State

Posted by Press Release on December 22, 2014 at 7:41 pm under College | Comments are off for this article

KENNESAW, Ga. – The Elon University men’s basketball team surged in the second half to overcome a 15-point deficit and come out victorious, 67-65, over Kennesaw State on Monday, Dec. 22, at the KSU Convocation Center.

Elon (7-5) took a two-point edge with less than a minute remaining when Elijah Bryant buried his season-best fourth three of the game to give his squad a 64-62 lead.

The Owls made it a one-point game on a Nigel Pruitt corner triple limited Elon’s lead to one, 66-65, with 9.5 seconds left.

After Bryant split a pair of free throws, Kennesaw State had two chances to tie it, but the Phoenix defense held its ground. Bryant came up with a key block on a Yonel Brown layup before Delbert Love missed a corner three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.

“There was no question at the beginning of the game [Kennesaw State] was more mentally ready then we were – they punched us in the mouth,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “We were not attacking and we didn’t pass the mental test early on. But from that point on, we fought and got back in it. The way our guys fought tonight is a real testament to their toughness.”

Bryant ended the game with a season-best 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including a 4-of-6 clip from deep. The two-time CAA Rookie of the Week also dished out a game-high five assists.

Ryan Winters was the only other Phoenix player in double figures with 12 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field. Winters made all six of his free throw attempts and hauled down six rebounds.

Elon out-rebounded KSU, 37-34, and outscored the Owls bench, 35-2.

A combined eight points have decided Elon’s last three pre-Christmas games. Elon won a five-point nail-biter at Florida Atlantic last season after winning on a buzzer-beater at Columbia two seasons ago.

The Owls forced an Elon timeout with 17:22 to play in the first half after beginning the game on a 10-0 run. Elon scored its first basket on the possession following the timeout on a Kevin Blake up-and-under layup with 17:03 on the clock.

Trailing 26-11 later in the first period, the Phoenix narrowed the gap with a 10-0 run of its own to make it a five-point game, 26-21, with 7:55 remaining.

The Owls took a 40-31 lead at the break after shooting a blistering 55 percent from the floor and turning 10 turnovers by Elon into 17 points.

Elon forced a KSU timeout with 15:24 remaining in the second period after starting the half on a 6-0 run to cut into the Owls’ lead, making it a 40-37 game following a Dmitri Thompson fast-break dunk.

The maroon and gold tied it with less than 12 minutes remaining after a Samson trey knotted it at 47-all. Minutes later, the Phoenix took its first lead of the game with 9:37 to play after a pair of Christian Hairston free throws gave Elon a 49-48 edge. Elon never let the Owls take more than a three-point lead from that point forward.

Elon has a six-day break before returning home to take on Marist on Dec. 28.


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