CULLOWHEE, N.C. – A second-half surge by the Elon University men’s basketball team paved the way for a key 80-67 victory over league unbeaten Western Carolina on Monday night, Jan. 14, inside the Ramsey Center in Cullowhee.
After trailing by four points at the half, Elon (9-7-, 2-2 Southern Conference) went on a 21-7 run in the second session to go ahead by as many as 14 points late in the game. The Phoenix shot a blistering 57 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, handing Western Carolina (7-10, 4-1 Southern Conference) its first league loss of the year.
“Tonight was a total team victory after we were knocked to the mat Saturday in Boone,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “We didn’t finish the first half the way we wanted to tonight, but everyone stepped up for us tonight. Several guys played out of position and gave us great minutes when we needed it.”
Four Phoenix players scored in double figures, as Lucas Troutman led the way with his second double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 boards. Troutman knocked down 7-of-12 from the field and hit all six of his free throw attempts. As a team, Elon shot 86 percent at the charity stripe.
Jack Isenbarger ended the night with 16 points, all of which came in the second period. Isenbarger played only seven minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble.
Sebastian Koch hit 5-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, to finish with 15 points and five assists.
Ryley Beaumont followed up a career day at Appalachian State on Saturday with 12 points against the Catamounts. Beaumont scored 26 against the Mountaineers two days ago, a career best.
WCU’s Trey Sumler ended the night with 32 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field and 9-of-12 shooting from the charity stripe.
Josh Bonney helped push the Phoenix out to its first lead of the game with about 12 minutes remaining after hitting a three-pointer from the wing to give Elon a 13-10 lead. Minutes later, the senior slashed through the lane and found Tanner Samson underneath the basket for the layup, giving the maroon and gold a 17-12 edge. Bonney finished the night with four points in nine minutes off the bench, while Samson recorded two points and four assists.
With the halftime buzzer nearing, Sumler stole Elon’s inbound pass with about a second remaining and drew a foul on Beaumont to earn a trip to the charity stripe. Sumler connected on both shots with 0.9 seconds remaining to give WCU a four-point cushion, 31-27, heading into the locker room.
The Phoenix led by as many as seven in the first half, but saw its lead dwindle as the clock winded down to zero as the Catamounts closed the final 9:39 of the half on a 19-6 run.
Elon shot 33 percent from the field in the opening frame, while limiting the Catamounts to a 39-percent clip. The Phoenix won the turnover battle in the first half, 6-5, but Western Carolina dominated on the glass, 24-17, scoring six second-chance points. The two teams ended the night tied on the glass, 37-all.
Isenbarger gave the Phoenix a 47-45 advantage with 11:51 remaining in the second half after sinking three free-throw attempts to give Elon momentum. Minutes later, a Koch three pointer from the corner with 9:23 remaining put the Phoenix ahead by six, 54-48.
Elon opened up a 14-point lead with about seven minutes remaining when Isenbarger drilled his third triple of the half to give the Phoenix a 62-48 lead.
Western Carolina pulled no closer than nine points down the stretch, as the Phoenix held on for the key conference road win.
Elon returns home for back-to-back games versus Furman (Jan. 17) and Wofford (Jan. 19).