PHILADELPHIA – Elijah Bryant’s season-high 32 points led the Elon University men’s basketball team to a 77-67 win over Drexel in its Colonial Athletic Association opener on Saturday, Jan. 3, at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
The reigning CAA Rookie of the Week, Bryant finished the day 10-of-20 from the floor and 9-of-10 at the free throw line in the victory, all while hauling down a game-high seven boards. Bryant is the first Phoenix player to score 30+ points in a game since Jack Isenbarger dropped 34 against The Citadel on Feb. 12, 2012.
Elon (9-5, 1-0 CAA) was red hot from long distance in the opening half, connecting on 10 first-half threes en route to an 18-point halftime lead. The maroon and gold finished 11-of-20 (55 percent) from deep.
The Phoenix led by as many as 20 points in the victory, holding off a late Drexel surge led by Damion Lee’s 29 points.
“We’re excited to be able to come out with the victory,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “We knew as coaches we shot the ball very well in the first half and that masked some of the mistakes we made defensively. We knew it would be a battle in the second half, and it was. I think we took a step forward today. It’s probably the best we’ve played all year, certainly the first half is the best half we’ve played all year.”
Elon ended the game 47 percent from the floor and held a 32-29 edge on the glass.
Tanner Samson was the only other Phoenix player in double figures, as the CAA’s top three-point shooter ended the day with 12 points on four makes from beyond the arc.
Samson forced the Dragons into a timeout with 6:56 to play in the first period after knocking down a three-pointer from the top of the key following a midcourt steal to give Elon a 25-17 lead.
Bryant led all players with 17 points in the first 20 minutes on 6-of-11 shooting, including a 3-of-3 clip from deep.
Rashann London cut Elon’s lead down to 10 points with 13:30 after a triple from the top of the key made it a 50-40 game.
An eight-point margin was as close as the Dragons would come down the stretch after a deep triple by Lee with 25.7 seconds to play, as Elon fended off heavy defensive pressure from Drexel to secure the win.
Elon resumes league play on Monday night, Jan. 5, at Towson.