PISCATAWAY, N.J. – A late surge by the Elon University men’s basketball team fell just short against eighth-seeded Drexel on Monday, Nov. 18, as the sixth-seeded Phoenix dropped a 71-64 decision on the first day of the 2013 NIT Season Tip-Off at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
Elon (2-2) trailed Drexel (2-1) by as many as 16 points with 13:28 to play, but the Phoenix caught fire and went on a 17-3 run over the next eight minutes to make it a two-point game, 52-50, following a Luke Eddy layup and made free throw with 5:48 to play.
But the Dragons responded, going to a 10-2 run to take a 62-52 lead with 2:15 to play. Drexel managed to hold on to the lead from that point forward, as Elon could pull no closer than four points down the stretch.
“Drexel is a very good team with veteran guards and they got the better of us for the first 20 minutes,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “We defended pretty well, but we just couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively. We need to get better in every area and we have got to do a better job of rebounding the basketball.”
The Dragons got the better of the Phoenix on the glass, 39-24, as the maroon and gold grabbed only one offensive rebound in the setback.
The Phoenix struggled to find a rhythm beyond the arc, shooting just 2-of-16 from long range. The last time Elon knocked down two or fewer three pointers in a game was Feb. 23, 2012, at Davidson when it went 2-of-14 from three.
Elon committed only nine turnovers against Drexel, its lowest total in game since committing seven against College of Charleston in last year’s Southern Conference Tournament.
Lucas Troutman led all players with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, including a 7-for-7 clip from the free throw line. Ryley Beaumont was the only other Phoenix player in double figures, finishing with 10 points.
Drexel took a 10-point lead, 33-23, into the locker room at intermission, despite shooting just 36 percent in the opening frame. The Dragons got to the free throw line 20 times, knocking down 14 attempts. The Phoenix knocked down 43 percent from the field (10-of-23) in the first half, but managed only one make from beyond the arc.
The Dragons took a 16-point lead with 14:03 remaining after deep three by Chris Fouch as the shot clocked sounded expired put Elon behind, 47-31.
Luke Eddy completed Elon’s 17-3 run and made it a two-point game, 52-50, with 5:48 remaining after a strong drive to the basket for a bucket and foul.
But the Dragons responded with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to reclaim a double-digit lead and hold on down the stretch.
Elon will play the loser of Canisius versus Rutgers tomorrow night at the RAC. If Elon plays Canisius, the game will tip at 5 p.m. If Elon plays Rutgers, the game will tip at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.