SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Elon University men’s basketball team overcame an eight-point second-half deficit to send a back and forth battle with UMass to overtime, but the Phoenix fell just short in the extra session, dropping a 78-73 decision to the Minutemen in the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase game at the MassMutual Center.
Elon moves to 6-4 on the year with the setback, while UMass improves to 5-3.
“We fought hard for all 40 minutes and if we continue to fight like we did today and keep climbing the ladder, we’ll be successful as we go forward,” said Phoenix head coach Matt Matheny. “I’m very proud of the way we competed on the glass today. I really felt if we could outrebound [UMass] or keep it even it would be a close game and that’s exactly what it was.”
Following a missed jumper by the Phoenix, Tanner Samson hit a clutch three-pointer for Elon with 8.3 seconds remaining in the second period to tie the game at 66-all and complete the eight point comeback.
UMass’ Chaz Williams had a chance to put the Minutemen ahead with 2.2 seconds left at the free throw line for two shots, but missed both attempts to keep the game knotted at 66-all at the end of regulation.
Lucas Troutman tied the game at 70-all in overtime with a pair of free throw makes with 1:47 remaining, but the Minutemen pulled away from that point forward with a 5-0 run to all but seal it down the stretch.
Jack Isenbarger tied for a game-high with 22 points on 6-of-20 shooting, including a 4-of-14 clip from beyond the arc.
Troutman recorded his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 boards, including seven on offense. Sebastian Koch fell just short of a double-double with 15 points and nine boards.
Elon won the battle on the glass, 53-48, marking the first time the team has outrebounded its opponent and not come away victorious this season. The Phoenix totaled a season-high 20 offensive rebounds in the game. Tony Sabato grabbed a season-high eight boards in the contest.
Trailing by two points with 6:25 remaining in the first period, Isenbarger put the Phoenix ahead by one, 21-20, after sinking three free-throw attempts after a UMass foul on his three-point attempt from the corner near the Minutemen bench.
An Austin Hamilton layup as the halftime buzzer sounded rimmed out, as the Phoenix and Minutemen went to the locker room tied, 33-all, at intermission.
Isenbarger led all players with 16 points in the opening frame, as the Phoenix shot 34 percent from the field on 12-of-35 field goal attempts. Elon capitalized on seven miscues by the Minutemen in the first 20 minutes, scoring 13 points off turnovers. Overall, Elon won the turnover battle against the Minutemen, 18-16.
The Minutemen opened up an eight-point lead with 10:16 left in the second half after a fast-break layup by Chaz Williams made it a 50-42 game.
Hamilton pulled the Phoenix within three with 1:08 left after splitting a pair from the line to make it a 64-61 game. Hamilton made it a one-point game seconds later after hitting two from the line to make it a 64-63 game.
Samson connected on the game-tying three pointer as the clocked ticked down, as a missed jumper by Koch led to an open three on the left wing by Samson to tie it at 66-all with 8.3 seconds left.
The two teams continued to battle back and forth to begin overtime, but the Minutemen pulled away late after hitting key free throws down the stretch. UMass shot 66 percent from the charity stripe on 31-of-47 attempts.
Elon returns to action on Thursday night, Dec. 20, when it heads to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils. Tip is set for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPNU.