BOONE, N.C. – There wasn’t a shot Appalachian State didn’t like in the second half as the Mountaineers shot a blistering 76 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes to hand the visiting Elon Phoenix an 81-66 loss at the Holmes Center in Saturday afternoon Southern Conference men’s basketball action.
After holding a slim three-point advantage at the break, ASU (9-11, 5-5) scored 52 points and made 19 buckets in the second half to win its seventh straight against the Phoenix (10-10, 5-4) in an important division matchup.
“Credit goes to Appalachian State for playing better than we did,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “Our team is playing hard and improving, but I thought their run to start the second half really put us on our heels and forced us to play tentative.”
Elon’s Jack Isenbarger scored 20 points to lead the Phoenix for the second straight game. The guard shot 50 percent from the field and knocked down 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Freshman point guard Austin Hamilton was the only other Phoenix in double figures with 10 points. Lucas Troutman collected 10 rebounds and was a point away from a double-double.
Jamaal Trice and Omar Carter each dumped in 20 points for the Mountaineers while Carter grabbed a game-high 11 boards as well.
Elon found itself within three, 29-26, after 20 minutes despite shooting only 28.6 percent from the floor. Both teams got off to a rocky offensive start with some sloppy passing and missed shots.
In the second period, the Mountaineers came out on fire, nailing eight of their first nine shots to rush out to a 49-36 advantage with less than six minutes gone by. A couple Phoenix buckets trimmed the lead to eight, but a quick 9-0 spurt by the home team made is a 17-point contest, 58-41, with 11:50 remaining.
The Appalachian defense seemed to feed off its sharp shooting, pressuring the Phoenix into 18 turnovers — 12 in the second half. With very few missed baskets by the opposition, Elon could never get out in transition and create offense from its defense.
Elon still managed to make a little push of its own, capping an 11-2 run with a four-point play from Isenbarger that cut the lead to eight, 60-52, at 9:09. Unfortunately, defensive stops were hard to come by and App had the answer for each Phoenix bucket.
Elon shot 37.9 percent for the game, hitting 7-of-20 (35 percent) from three. The Phoenix was much better from the free throw line compared to Thursday evening, connecting on 15-of-20 (75 percent). Appalachian finished 30-of-55 (54.5) from the field with 14 turnovers and 10 steals.
Elon will begin a three-game home stand with three games in five days beginning on Thursday, Feb. 2 when College of Charleston comes to Alumni Gym for a 7 p.m. tip.