ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team cut a 15-point second-half deficit down to one in the final moments but could not get over the hump, as the Phoenix dropped a 75-74 decision to the Metro State Roadrunners on Monday night, Nov. 25, in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
With the ball and trailing by one with 14.1 seconds left, the Phoenix had a chance to snatch the game from the Roadrunners in the final moments. But a Sebastian Koch drive to the basket came up short and Lucas Troutman’s put-back after an offensive board just missed as the buzzer sounded, as Metro State managed to escape Alumni Gym with the win.
Elon falls to 2-4 with the setback, while Metro State, the top-ranked team in Division II and last year’s national runner-up, remains at 2-0 with the win.
“I was very encouraged by the way we fought back into the game against a very good Metro State team,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “They really attacked us to start the game and executed their system very well. We fought through some unusual situations to get back in the game to have a chance to win it.”
Elon put five players in double figures, led by 15 points from Koch and Austin Hamilton. Jack Isenbarger scored 13 points in the setback, knocking down four shots from beyond the arc. Troutman and Tanner Samson finished with 11 and 10, respectively.
Metro State’s Mitch McCarron scored a game-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.
Elon knocked down 46 percent from the field, including 57 percent (12-of-21) from beyond the arc. Metro State shot 47 percent from the field, hitting 6-of-15 (40 percent) from three.
The Roadrunners sped out to a 12-point lead with 12:01 to play in the opening frame following a Brandon Jefferson triple in the corner that made it a 23-11 game.
Metro State led by 11 points, 40-29, at intermission after capitalizing on eight Phoenix turnovers in the first 20 minutes for 13 points. The maroon and gold shot 39 percent in the opening frame, while MSU knocked down 16-of-33 from the field, good for 49 percent.
The Phoenix got started quickly in the second half, pulling within eight with 17:11 to play after a Hamilton steal and drive to the basket made it a 44-36 game.
Isenbarger put the Elon faithful on their feet with 8:07 to play after answering an MSU three-pointer with his own triple from the wing to make it a 62-56 game.
After corralling a Ryley Beaumont missed jumper, Samson connected on a three-ball from the wing with 1:24 to play to give the Phoenix momentum and pull his squad within one, 73-72.
But the Phoenix could not convert the go-ahead basket down the stretch, as Metro State held on for the win after leading for the final 38 minutes of the game.
The Phoenix returns to action tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. versus Georgia State.