COLUMBIA, S.C. – For the second straight year, a knock down, drag out battle between the Elon men’s basketball team and the South Carolina Gamecocks ended in favor of the Phoenix, as Elon came away with a 65-53 victory over USC inside Colonial Life Arena on Wednesday night, Nov. 21.
Elon (4-1) held on to a double-digit lead for most of the game tonight, sustaining an 8-0 second-half run by South Carolina (3-1) that put the Gamecocks within five late. But the maroon and gold held tight, closing the final 5:45 of the game on an 8-1 run to secure its fourth straight win. Elon held South Carolina without a field goal make in the final 7:02 of the game.
“This was a very good win for us tonight, but what’s exciting for me is that we had a game plan going in and we executed it for most of 40 minutes tonight,” said Phoenix head coach Matt Matheny. “We knew in order to win tonight we would have to match South Carolina’s intensity and we did that. Offensively, it wasn’t pretty at times, but we played tough and battled all night.”
Lucas Troutman led all players with 17 points in the win to go along with six boards, three steals and two blocks. Troutman has registered 15 blocked shots during Elon’s four-game winning streak.
Jack Isenbarger and Austin Hamilton each finished the night with 13 points, while Sebastian Koch had an efficient evening with nine points, seven boards and five assists.
The Phoenix shot 46 percent from the field in the win and limited the Gamecocks to just a 32-percent night on 18-of-56 field goal attempts. Elon won the turnover battle, 22-14, which it has accomplished in every game so far this season.
Koch gave the Phoenix early momentum after hitting a deep three from the left wing with 10:44 remaining in the first period to give his team an 18-12 lead, forcing USC head coach Frank Martin to call a timeout.
The Phoenix carried an eight-point lead, 31-23, into the locker room at intermission after forcing the Gamecocks into 14 turnovers in the period that led to 12 points. Elon shot 42 percent (14-of-33) from the field in the opening frame, knocking down half of its three-point attempts (3-of-6).
Ryley Beaumont gave the maroon and gold a jolt and a 13-point lead with 12:17 remaining in the second half after hitting a jumper in the paint to make it a 48-35 game, forcing another Gamecocks timeout.
Troutman put the breaks on South Carolina’s 8-0 charge with less than five minutes after sinking a jumper in the paint to make it a 59-52 game.
The Phoenix led by as many as 16 points in the win, a lead which was capped by a Troutman dunk at the 10:42 mark that put the Elon faithful in attendance on its feet.
Elon plays its second of three straight road games on Saturday, Nov. 24, when it heads to Lexington, Va., to face VMI. Tip is set for 5 p.m.