HARRISONBURG, Va. – It came down to the final possession, but the Elon men’s basketball team’s rally fell just shy in a 75-72 setback at James Madison on Saturday night, Jan. 17, inside a raucous JMU Convocation Center.
Down three with 8.2 seconds left, Elon (10-9, 2-4 CAA) had a chance to send the game to overtime and complete an 11-point comeback, but Austin Hamilton’s three from the wing misfired as the final buzzer sounded to allow JMU (11-8, 4-2 CAA) to escape with the victory.
“They punched us pretty good in the second half, but I’m pleased with the way we fought back and had a shot to tie it,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “A lot of people have struggled against James Madison’s zone, and I liked our aggressive nature against their zone. This is something we can build on, but we’re ready to reap the benefit of a victory.”
A nifty finger-roll layup with 1:13 remaining by Kevin Blake put the Phoenix within a point for the first time since midway through the first half.
The Dukes had a chance to seal the game with free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining, but Dmitri Thompson snatched the ball from JMU’s Jack Kent near midcourt to give Elon the ball with 8.2 seconds on the clock down three. But the Phoenix could not get over the hump on the game’s final possession to send it to OT.
Hamilton finished with a season-high 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the floor, playing 21 minutes.
Tanner Samson nailed five triples in the setback, putting him at 200 for his career and ahead of Chris Chalko for fifth in school history. Samson is one of five players in school history with 200 or more threes. The junior guard finished the night with a game-high 18 points.
As a team, Elon knocked down 8-of- 21 from deep and shot 39 percent as a whole from the floor. Meanwhile, the Dukes picked up their eighth win in as many games when shooting 50 percent or better from the floor. JMU made 25 of its 50 field goal attempts.
Both teams struggled on offense down the stretch of the first period, as the Dukes led, 33-30. Both Elon and James Madison connected on just one of their last seven field goal attempts to close the opening frame. The two squads combined for 10 first-half threes.
Elon returns home for a Jan. 22 matchup against Towson. Tip time is 7 p.m. at Alumni Gym.