WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Trailing by 20 points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, Elon University men’s basketball rallied to cut William & Mary’s lead to three points with just over three minutes to play, but the Tribe held on for the 99-92 victory on Thursday night, Feb. 1, inside Kaplan Arena.
The Tribe led by 13 points at halftime and took a 20-point lead with 10 minutes remaining, but a 26-9 run by Elon over a seven minute span cut William & Mary’s lead to three points 87-84 with three minutes left in the contest. The Tribe went on a 7-2 burst to take an eight-point lead with just over a minute to play and the Phoenix couldn’t recover as William & Mary held on for the victory.
“Coming into the game we knew how well William & Mary was playing, how well they shoot the ball, and in the first half they were unreal with the shots they were making,” said head coach Matt Matheny. “We were defending them at times and missed a couple of defensive assignments and it got a little worse, but we told our guys before the game – be resilient, be tough, and play for 40 minutes – and our guys really did that. I loved our mindset throughout the game, the way we hung in there, and the way we fought back from down 20 to cut their lead to three and we were just a stop or two away from sealing the victory.”
Tyler Seibring paced the Phoenix (13-11, 5-6 CAA) with a season-high 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting and tied a team-high with eight rebounds. Dainan Swoope recorded his seventh 20-point game of the season, tallying 25 points and finishing 8-of-13 from the field. Dmitri Thompson added 17 points, seven rebounds and a team-best five assists. Steven Santa Ana chipped in 10 points to round out Elon’s double-digit scorers.
William & Mary (15-7, 8-3 CAA) was led by Justin Pierce as he finished with 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-9 from three, and grabbed 12 rebounds. Nathan Knight scored 20 points and added a team-best six assists, Connor Burchfield finished with 17 points and Paul Rowley scored 16 for the Tribe.
After the Tribe took an 11-8 lead into the first media timeout, Karolis Kundrotas finished with a layup to cut William & Mary’s lead at the 14:22 mark. Elon and William & Mary then traded 5-0 runs, but Rowley’s jumper at 11:31 gave the Tribe a 18-15 lead.
William & Mary made a 6-0 run out of the media timeout to take 24-15 lead following threes from Matt Milon and Rowley, but a Dawkins layup and Santa Ana’s first triple of the night cut the deficit to just four, 24-20, with 9:08 left in the half.
Oliver Tot and Knight made layups to push William & Mary’s lead to eight points, but back-to-back three-pointers from Seth Fuller and Seibring sliced the Tribe’s lead to 28-26 with just over seven minutes on the clock.
An 8-0 run by the Tribe, led by two threes from Pierce, helped extend William & Mary’s lead to 36-26 after Knight’s layup at the 5:40 mark. Dawkins’ hook shot and Santa Ana’s layup bring the score within six, but the Tribe moved back ahead 41-32 at 3:04 following two Pierce free throws.
Following Seibring’s jumper at 2:41, W&M ended the half with an 11-5 run to take a 52-39 lead at the break. The Tribe shot 60 percent from the floor and 57 percent from three-point range in the opening half.
William & Mary used a 7-3 run to open the half and take a 59-44 lead, but the Phoenix fought back as Thompson’s steal and fast-break dunk cut the Tribe lead to eight, 59-51, with 15:40 remaining in the half. Elon answered another 5-0 run by the Tribe with a layup from Seibring and a three from Swoope to cut William & Mary’s lead back to eight, 64-56.
The Phoenix then did not make a basket for 3:53 and the Tribe took advantage with a 12-1 run to take a 78-58 lead with 10:12 on the clock. Elon answered with a 12-2 run to cut a 20-point deficit to 80-70 after Swoope’s layup, but Pierce made a three-pointer and the Tribe took an 83-70 lead into a media timeout with seven minutes on the clock.
Elon responded with another run of 14-4 over the next 3:14 to slice W&M’s lead to 87-84 with 3:30 on the clock and the Phoenix called a timeout. Seibring answered a William & Mary basket to make it a three-point game once again, 89-86, but the Tribe went on a 5-0 run to extend its 7-2 burst, which gave the host a 94-86 advantage with 1:37 remaining.
The maroon and gold continued to fight but couldn’t get shots to fall and couldn’t get enough stops down the final stretch. The Tribe made free throws over the final minute to close out the 99-92 win.
– Tyler Seibring scored in double-figures for the 12th straight contest, scoring a season-high 28 points, just two points shy of his career high. He has now scored 20 or more points in four games this season.
– Dainan Swoope finished with a team-best seventh 20-point game of the season, scoring 25 points for the Phoenix.
– The Phoenix shot the ball 50 percent from the floor, the third highest shooting percentage in a game this season. The Tribe shot 57.1 percent from the field, the highest percentage of any team Elon has faced this season.
– Seibring’s 28 points moves him to 30th on the program’s all-time scoring list as his career total now stands at 1,130 points.
– Swoope scored 25 points tonight, increasing his career total to 989. He is now 11 points away from becoming the 42nd player in program history to reach 1,000 career points.
– With the loss, Elon is still winless inside Kaplan Arena as the Tribe improve to 5-0 at home against the Phoenix.
The Phoenix returns home on Saturday, Feb. 3, to host the Delaware Blue Hens inside Alumni Gym at 7 p.m.