ELON, N.C. – Elon University men’s basketball’s comeback fell short and the Phoenix suffered a 90-84 setback against James Madison in its regular season finale on Monday, Feb. 26, the program’s last game inside of Alumni Gym.
The Phoenix (14-17, 6-12 CAA) rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to take a lead with 11 minutes remaining. James Madison (10-21, 6-12 CAA) punched back, taking a seven point advantage with two minutes to go, but Elon answered with a run to cut the Dukes’ lead to 86-84 with 14 seconds on the clock. Despite forcing a late turnover, the Phoenix was unable to capitalize and James Madison made free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“We had hope coming into this weekend that we could play better and get some traction,” said head coach Matt Matheny. “As difficult as the stretch this weekend and tonight has been, we got some traction. We played better tonight than we’ve played in a couple of weeks. Specifically in this game, we’ve got to defend better, but I was pleased that we came out and were a lot better offensively in the second half, and we put ourselves in a position to win at the end and just came up short.”
Brian Dawkins led the Phoenix with a season-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Tyler Seibring finished with 15 points and a team-best eight rebounds, Dmitri Thompson chipped in 16 and Steven Santa Ana added 11 points and a team-high six assists for Elon.
Stuckey Mosley paced James Madison with a game-high 29 points, which included 18 in the first half, and added a team-high five assists. Darius Banks finished with 18 points and Matt Lewis added 11 for the Dukes. Zach Jacobs grabbed a team-best seven rebounds to add to his nine points.
The Phoenix got off to a good start taking a 13-9 lead after Swoope drained a three-pointer at the 16:08 mark. Dawkins scored eight of Elon’s first 13 points to open the contest. Mosley’s hot start kept the Dukes in the contest and then JMU made an 11-2 run in response to take a 20-15 lead.
Elon cut into James Madison’s lead 23-22 with an 8-3 run, capped off at the seven-minute mark by Santa Ana’s three-pointer. The Dukes answered with a 15-5 run over the next 4:38 to take a 38-27 with 2:11 on the clock following Banks’ layup. JMU then took it’s largest lead of the half 43-30, but Thompson’s put-back layup right before the break cut the Dukes’ lead to 43-32.
After the Dukes took a 46-34 lead in the first 30 seconds of the half, Elon used a 14-4 run to cut JMU’s lead to two, 50-48, at the 15:46 mark following Thompson’s jumper. James Madison got out to a 57-51 lead, but the Phoenix made a 12-5 run to take a 65-64 at 11:09 after Dawkins’ three-point play. After Elon took the lead two more times in the next five minutes, James Madison made an 11-3 run trailing 70-69, stretching its lead to 80-73 at 3:44 following Dwight Wilson’s layup. JMU then continued to hold its lead to seven points up until 1:48 on the clock with an 84-77 advantage.
The Phoenix began to claw back into the contest as Seibring hit a three-pointer after Simon Wright’s offensive rebound. Following two free throws by Mosley, Thompson finished with a dunk and Wright’s steal set up for two Seibring free throws to cut JMU’s lead to 86-84 with 14 seconds to play.
James Madison was able to inbound the ball after taking a timeout and Mosley made two free throws with 12 seconds on the clock to extend JMU’s lead to 88-84. Seibring’s three-point attempt in traffic fell short and Lewis’ free throws sealed the Dukes’ win.
– The men’s basketball program concluded its time playing in Alumni Gym, which has been the home of the Phoenix for the last 68 years. Elon will move to the new Schar Center for the 2018-19 season.
– Elon will be the No. 10 seed in the CAA Men’s Basketball Championships and faces No. 7 seed Delaware on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
– Tyler Seibring is now in sole possession of 21st on the program’s all-time scoring list after scoring 15 points against JMU. He now has 1,252 career points and is seven points away from Drew Spradlin ’12, who is 20th all-time with 1,259 points.
– Seibring extended his double-digit scoring streak to 19 consecutive games. He has scored in double-figures in 28 of the team’s 31 games this season.
– The Phoenix closed the regular season on a six-game losing streak and has lost 10 of its last 12 contests.
– Elon enters the CAA Championships for the fourth time and will play in the 7/10 contest for the first time since joining the league.
The Phoenix opens the first round of the CAA Men’s Basketball Championships on Saturday, March 3, against No. 7-seeded Delaware at 6:30 p.m.