ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team’s second-half rally fell short in the semifinals of the 2013 Southern Conference Tournament on Sunday night, March 10, as the Phoenix dropped a 68-60 decision to College of Charleston inside the U.S. Cellular Center.
Second-seeded Elon (21-11) rallied from 12-points down in the second half to pull within two of third-seeded College of Charleston (24-9) with 7:09 to play following a Josh Bonney fast-break layup that made it a 46-44 game.
After the Cougars jumped back out to a lead as high as nine points, the Phoenix trimmed it again behind Bonney’s solid play, as the senior guard made it a four-point game with less than 30 seconds to play after a coast-to-coast layup. But College of Charleston managed to sink free throws down the stretch to keep the Phoenix at arm’s length in the waning moments.
“When you walk the high wire, the fall is really painful, but we wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Phoenix head coach Matt Matheny. “It’s a disappointing loss. [College of Charleston] got some open looks early and they knocked them down and made us pay for it. I am proud of the way our guys got off the mat. I’m proud of our mental toughness and I’m proud of the way we competed for 40 minutes.”
Bonney tied a season high mark with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 4-of-8 shooting at the line. The Houston, Texas, native exploded for 12 points in the second period.
Lucas Troutman led all players with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting to go along with two blocks and two steals, while Tanner Samson finished with 11 points. Troutman scored in double figures 27 times this season.
The Cougars knocked down 19-of-23 (83 percent) at the free throw line in the win, while limiting Elon to a season-low three makes from beyond the arc.
Elon committed only seven turnovers in the setback, tying a season low set twice this season against Florida Atlantic (Nov. 18) and Furman (Feb. 9).
College of Charleston began the game on an 11-0 run and forced a Phoenix timeout with 15:19 remaining. But Troutman ended it seconds later with an emphatic dunk to make it an 11-2 game.
Elon trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but a Josh Bonney triple from the wing with 3:56 to play pulled the maroon and gold within six, 23-17. That deficit remained the same going into the locker room at intermission, as CofC held a 25-19 lead.
The Phoenix shot 30 percent in the first 20 minutes and faced a 17-12 disadvantage on the glass. The Cougars proved to be efficient at the charity stripe in the first half, knocking down all six attempts.
Troutman pulled Elon within five points at the 14:52 mark after slipping through the lane for a dunk to make it a 36-31 game.
After sinking two free throws on Elon’s previous possession, Samson went to the line for three on the next following a foul on the rookie’s three-point attempt. Samson sunk all three attempts to make it a 44-41 game with 10:20 to play.
Bonney took over for the Phoenix down the stretch, going coast-to-coast for a layup following a CofC miss to make it a 46-44 game with 7:09 to play. Bonney scored 10 points from that point forward to help the Phoenix stay with the Cougars.
Andrew Lawrence led CofC with 19 points, while Willis Hall and Anthony Thomas finished with 16 and 10, respectively.
Officials: Billy Dunlap, Sidney Cohen and Alan Spainhour
Technical fouls: Col. of Charleston-None. Elon-None.
Southern Conference Tournament Semifinal 2
1st 2nd Total Col. of Charleston 25 43 68 Elon 19 41 60