SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Four Aztecs scored in double figures as host San Diego State handed the Elon men’s basketball team an 81-55 loss at Viejas Arena in non-conference action on Thursday afternoon in the final contest before the holidays for both teams.
SDSU (11-2) had the hot hand all night, finishing the evening 34-of-61 (55.7) from the floor while holding Elon (7-4) to just 19-of-60 (31.7). San Diego State used the strength of its big men to pound the ball down low, outscoring the Phoenix 44-16 in the paint, and also forcing Elon to rely on the outside shot.
While Elon opened 5-of-8 from three-point territory to take an early lead, the Phoenix shot 3-of-20 for the remainder of the contest and SDSU made big plays to pull away midway through the final half and put the game out of reach.
“This is a very tough environment to play,” commented Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “What Steve Fisher has done with this program is great. San Diego State went 34-3 last year and you don’t do that without coming in ready to play every night.
“I liked our start – the team prepared well and came in focused. We came in with fire, toughness and resiliency. Our players need to learn that we are talented enough to come back when teams make runs, but we have to fight for 40 minutes. San Diego State played hard and made some big plays and the game got away from us.”
Sophomore Jack Isenbarger and rookie Austin Hamilton were the lone Phoenix players in double figures with 10 points each. Sophomore wing Sebastian Koch netted nine points and led Elon on the glass with six boards.
SDSU guard Jamaal Franklin hit 8-of-16 from the field for a game high 19 points while grabbing six rebounds. Chase Tapley (14), Garrett Green (10) and Alec Williams (10) also contributed double figures in the contest. DeShawn Stephens came off the bench for nine rebounds as SDSU held a 39-30 advantage on the glass.
After trailing 6-4 in the early minutes, Elon’s next five baskets came from three-point territory. Four different Phoenix players — Hamilton, Beaumont, Koch and Isenbarger — hit treys during the stretch to give the visitors a 19-17 lead with 11:18 to play in the first half.
But a cold spell hit the Phoenix and two quick buckets by the Aztecs shifted the lead, 22-19, in favor of the home team. San Diego State would outscore Elon 20-9 over the final 10 minutes of the half to take a 37-28 advantage into the locker room. The Aztecs outscored Elon 22-2 in the paint in the first 20 minutes of action.
Koch drained a triple to start the second stanza and Hamilton picked the pocket of Tapley at midcourt and scored to put Elon within four, 37-33, before a minute had gone by in the second half. But, the Aztecs were quick to respond and a 13-0 stretch that spanned four minutes made it 50-33, giving SDSU a comfortable lead that it would never relinquish. Franklin scored nine points during the run, bringing a rowdy afternoon crowd to its feet.
San Diego State shot a blistering 58 percent in the final half while limiting Elon to 2-of-14 from downtown.
Elon will take a short break for the holiday before returning to the hardwood to battle the fifth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels on Thursday, December 29. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPNU.