ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team dropped a 67-63 nail-biter to Drexel on Thursday night, Feb. 5, in Colonial Athletic Association basketball inside Alumni Gym.
Elon (11-13, 3-8 CAA) rallied from eight points down with 1:11 remaining to make it a three-point game with 14 seconds left on a pair of Austin Hamilton free throws that limited Drexel (8-14, 6-5 CAA) to a 66-63 lead.
But with the Phoenix in a must-foul situation and applying defensive pressure, the Dragons managed to sink free throws in the waning moments to secure their fourth straight victory.
“Drexel came out and played really well in the first 12 minutes to put us on our heels,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “But our guys never hung their heads and they kept fighting. We got better defensively today. We’ve been struggling to get stops when we need to. We took a step forward, but we didn’t get the victory tonight. We have to keep our heads up and keep fighting.”
Tanner Samson ended the night with a game-high 22 points, the most for the junior guard against a league foe this season. Samson connected on five threes in the setback, bringing his career total to 216.
The Dragons put four players in double figures, led by Damion Lee’s 16 points. Lee scored 12 of his 16 in the first 12 minutes of the game to push his team out to an early double-digit lead.
Elon narrowed a 13-point deficit down to five at the half, as a Collin Luther layup underneath the basket limited Drexel to a 31-26 advantage. Both squads shot well in the opening session. Elon knocked down 44-percent from the floor in the opening frame, while Drexel, led by Lee’s 13 first-half points, shot 45 percent.
The Phoenix pulled within one early in the second half, but a quick 6-0 run by the Dragons over a two-minute span made it a 45-36 game with 12:04 to play, forcing an Elon timeout.
Elijah Bryant’s lone triple of the game came during a key stretch that limited Drexel to a 58-54 advantage with 2:15 to play. But on the next possession, the Dragons’ Sammy Mojica scored on an offensive rebound to put his team ahead by six, 60-54, with 1:38 to play.
Elon managed to pull within three down the stretch, but could not get over the hump.
The Phoenix shot 47.1 percent from the floor in the game on 24-of-52 field goals, its highest shooting percentage in a loss all season. Elon also made 24-of-52 from the field at Drexel earlier this season.
Elon returns to action on Saturday night, Feb. 7, at Hofstra.