HANOVER, N.H. – Shooting struggles plagued the Phoenix all afternoon as the Dartmouth Big Green snapped Elon’s four-game winning streak with a 62-54 victory over the visiting Phoenix in non-conference men’s basketball action from Leede Arena on Saturday.
Elon (7-3) shot its lowest percentage of the season, hitting only 16-of-55 (29.1) from the field in its first loss of December. Dartmouth, playing its first home game in nearly a month, ended a four-game losing skid to improve to 3-7.
“All the credit goes to Dartmouth — they beat us today,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “They defended us well and made everything we do difficult. They were tougher than us today and played through physical play better. As a result, we could never get back over the top in the second half.
“We need to learn from this. I told the guys in the locker room that we’ve gotten a little bit better every day, but we need to make important corrections after both wins and losses.”
Elon connected on its first five field goals in the game, four falling from beyond the arc, in the opening four minutes of the game. The Phoenix managed only 11 buckets the rest of the way, relying on its defense to stay in the game. Nine of Elon’s 16 buckets came from long range.
Four finished in double figures for the Phoenix with sophomores Lucas Troutman and Ryley Beaumont each turning in 13 points. Rookie Austin Hamilton scored all 11 of his points in the first half and sophomore Sebastian Koch added 10 points.
Dartmouth is only the third Elon opponent to shoot above 40 percent this season, connecting on 23-of-53 (43.4) from the floor. Gabas Maldunas had a game-high 17 points, scoring 13 in the second half, while also pulling down 10 boards. John Golden came off the bench for a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds as Dartmouth held the 42-35 advantage on the glass.
It looked like the Phoenix had its rhythm after running out to a 16-7 lead at the 15:56 mark behind the strength of its three-point shooting. Unfortunately, the first of several lengthy droughts from the field allowed the Big Green to turn the tables.
Dartmouth outscored the Phoenix 20-6 during a 12-minute stretch that saw only one Elon field goal and gave the home team a 27-22 advantage. With the Elon defense holding strong, a Hamilton trey with under a minute sparked the Phoenix and made it a 27-26 game. The point guard forced a Dartmouth turnover in the backcourt on the next possession, setting up a Beaumont jumper in the waning seconds of the half and Elon took a 29-27 advantage to the locker room.
After the Big Green scored the first four points of the second period, Troutman finished a two-handed alley-oop from Koch to spark the Phoenix. Beaumont nailed a three on the next possession and again Elon was off to a quick start to the half with a 34-31 lead.
But once more shooting woes would never allow for the Phoenix to put a significant run together and Dartmouth used a 15-3 stretch to go on top by nine, 46-37. The hosts pushed the advantage to as many as 12, 53-41, with 6:07 to go before a Beaumont triple started an 8-2 run that made it a two possession game, 55-49, with under three minutes remaining.
Although Dartmouth missed on a couple front ends of one-and-one opportunities, Elon was never able to get closer than five.
The field goal percentage was the lowest by an Elon team since a 26.0 percent shooting performance in a 55-31 loss at Samford on December 3, 2009.
Elon will continue its three-game road trip, heading to the opposite side of the country where the Phoenix will face off against San Diego State on Thursday, December 22. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.