SPARTANBURG, S.C. – An 22-1 first-half Wofford run proved an insurmountable hole for the Phoenix as the host Terriers posted a 72-59 victory in Southern Conference men’s basketball action from Ben Johnson Arena on Wednesday night. Wofford (17-11, 10-6) shot 59 percent in the first half and took advantage of a nine-minute stretch that the Phoenix went scoreless from the field to build a lead that Elon (13-13, 8-7) could not overcome.
“This is disappointing,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “Wofford played like the champions they are. They played with confidence. They played with toughness. We did not and they took it to us in the first half, knocked the wind out of our sails a little bit. We played better and more aggressive in the second half — we won the second half, but they won the game.”
Elon fired 63 percent in the second half, compared to a 32 percent clip in the opening 20 minutes. Just a game removed from draining 14 three-pointers at Samford, the Phoenix struggled from beyond the arc, managing only 4-of-15 triples.
The stat sheet was reversed for the Terriers as Wofford connected on 16-of-27 field goals to begin the game before the Elon defense held the Terriers to 8-of-26 (30.8 percent) coming out of the locker room. Wofford maintained its lead by making a living at the foul line, hitting 15-of-18 after the break.
Sophomore Jack Isenbarger led the way for the Phoenix with 17 points, 13 in the second half, on an 8-of-13 night from the field. Ryley Beaumont added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds while Lucas Troutman also contributed 10 points.
Wofford’s Kevin Giltner was a difference maker, netting 19 of his game-high 26 points in the first half. He hit five triples before the break, scoring 14 points during the Terriers’ game-changing run. Veteran point guard Brad Loesing had 12 points and eight assists and Lee Skinner came off the bench for 15 points.
Elon took an 11-10 lead on a Sebastian Koch three-pointer at the 14:05 mark before shooting struggles plagued the Phoenix. Elon missed its next eight field goal attempts and was limited to just one point from the charity stripe over the next nine minutes as Wofford built its lead to as many as 22, 34-12.
A Beaumont jumper finally ended the drought and Elon would claw within 14 before heading into the break trailing, 38-22.
Elon closed the gap to 11 after a Brett Ervin long ball at the 17:29 mark, but six straight Terrier points stretched the advantage to 49-32 just minutes later. The Phoenix would be within 11 on four more occasions, but could never combine a stop with a bucket to get within single digits. Wofford answered each Elon push and made good from the line to come away with the win.
Wofford took advantage of 14 Phoenix turnovers, dumping in 17 points off the miscues. Elon attempted only nine freebies compared to 18 by the Terriers.
The Phoenix is returning to Alumni Gym for the first of its final two home games of the season. Elon will host Western Carolina in a televised contest on Saturday, February 18 at 3 p.m. The game can be seen on the SoCon Network and ESPN3.