ELON, N.C. – Two overtimes. Sixty-nine buckets. Nine players in double figures. But in the end, it was a few fingertips that were the difference in the game. Andrew Lawrence’s off-balance jumper in the lane grazed the top of Egheosa Edomwonyi’s outstretched hand and the Elon Phoenix survived a 99-98 double-overtime thriller over the College of Charleston in front of a rowdy group in Alumni Gym on Thursday night.
Lawrence missed very few shots in his game-high 32-point performance. The guard trimmed Elon’s 99-95 lead to one with his fifth triple of the night with 17 ticks on the clock. Edomwonyi aimed a long inbounds pass at Drew Spradlin at midcourt, but it was intercepted by James Carlton. Carlton found his point guard and Lawrence dribbled in the lane for a chance at the game-winner. Phoenix guard Jack Isenbarger corralled the rebound after the Edomwonyi block as the buzzer sounded.
The Cougars (13-10, 5-7) erased a double-digit halftime deficit and overcame Elon leads in both extra sessions, but the Phoenix managed to come away with its first victory over CofC since 2009.
“This was a great, great team victory between two teams that both played like warriors,” noted Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “We had an incredible home court atmosphere that made a huge difference. I am very proud of all of our players for the way we fought together.”
Elon (11-10, 6-4), playing without the services of starting point guard Austin Hamilton, got a gutty performance from Isenbarger who played 47 minutes and dumped in 25 points, grabbed six rebounds and offered six assists.
“I’m just glad it is over to be honest,” commented an exhausted Isenbarger. “It was a battle. We never gave up and we showed that we aren’t going to play back on our heels. We came out on the attack and fought until the end.”
Big man Lucas Troutman led the way for the Phoenix with a career-high 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Spradlin drained 5-of-9 for 18 points and Sebastian Koch added 14 in the win.
Cougar forward Trent Wiedeman was a beast all night, scoring 17 points and pulling down 17 rebounds. CofC had five in double figures.
The Phoenix shot a blistering 68 percent in the first half, draining its first seven three-point attempts to grow its lead to as many as 23 points and allowing only four CofC baskets through the first 11 minutes of the contest. Elon scored 51 first-half points after mustering only 44 total points against Charleston in the first meeting of the year.
The Cougars managed to hit back-to-back threes in the final minute of the half, but still trailed 51-34 heading into the locker room.
The Phoenix held a 57-39 lead with 14:41 to play in regulation. It was then that the Cougars started to chip away, gaining confidence as the advantage dwindled. A 21-9 stretch capped by a Weideman bucket made it a 67-60 game with 7:26 remaining.
After a Lawrence triple closed the gap to 71-67, Isenbarger matched him at the other end of the floor with a defender in his face. The Phoenix got a stop and Isenbarger drew a double team before finding Troutman in the lane to put Elon back on top by nine, 76-67, with 3:08 to go.
But, as the cliché goes, it is never over until it is over and Charleston pressed on, tying the game at 76 on a layup by none other than Lawrence with 19 seconds left. Both teams missed opportunities and overtime followed.
Elon went up four twice in the first overtime, but CofC responded and the extra session came ended deadlocked at 82.
It started to look like a different game in the final overtime as players fouled out and forced reserves to come in cold off the bench. With an 88-88 score at 2:07, Koch sank two free throws to start a chain reaction that saw the Phoenix hit 7-of-8 from the stripe and move ahead 95-88 with 1:06 to go.
Charleston’s Antwaine Wiggins hit one of his three shots from beyond the arc to make it a four-point game and then the Cougar pressure forced a couple Elon turnovers. Roger Dugas, seeing his first action for the maroon and gold in three games, sent a long pass down court to a wide-open Isenbarger who finished the layup for a 99-95 Elon advantage with 22 seconds. The Lawrence trey and Phoenix turnover set up the final CofC chance.
The last time Elon won an overtime game was on January 24, 2009 when the Phoenix knocked off Chattanooga, 86-85, in Alumni Gym. Elon’s last win over CofC in Alumni Gym was also in overtime, an 87-86 victory on February 20, 2008.
The Phoenix will get very little rest before hosting The Citadel on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. The Elon women will welcome Furman to Alumni Gym at 2 p.m. that afternoon.