Elon MBB Set for CAA Championship in Baltimore

ELON, N.C. – Riding a CAA-best three-game winning streak, the Elon men’s basketball team travels to Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore for the 2015 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship, March 6-9. The eighth-seeded Phoenix has a first-round matchup with ninth-seeded Towson on Friday, March 6, at 6 p.m.

ELON VS. TOWSON: Towson has won both meetings vs. Elon by a combined six points. Despite rallying from 18 points down at Towson earlier this season on Jan. 5, the Phoenix dropped a 57-53 decision to the Tigers at SECU Arena. Struggles from three plagued Elon, as it finished 3-of-16 (18 percent) from long range. Later in the year on Jan. 22 at Elon, Mike Morsell helped Towson to a 53-51 victory at Alumni Gym. Morsell hit a jumper with 1.6 left on the clock in regulation to give the Tigers a two-point win. In two games against Towson, Elon is shooting 37 percent from the floor, which includes a 7-of-33 clip from three. Towson has a combined rebounding margin of +21 in two games this season.

ELON IN TOURNAMENT PLAY: Under head coach Matt Matheny, Elon is 4-5 in tournament play. Last season was the first time under Matheny that Elon did not win at least one tournament game, as the maroon and gold dropped a quarterfinals decision to eventual Southern Conference Tournament runner-up Western Carolina. Elon’s lone trip to a conference championship game during the school’s Division I era was in 2008 when the Phoenix dropped a 65-49 decision to Stephen Curry and 23rd-ranked Davidson. The Wildcats went on to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament that season with Matheny as the associate head coach on staff. Current Elon assistant coaches Monty Sanders and Chris Long were both players on the Phoenix squad that season.

GOING STREAKING: Elon’s current three-game winning streak ties the second longest of the season. Elon won four straight earlier this season with victories over UNCG, Kennesaw State, Marist and Drexel. Elon’s current streak ties its best winning streak going into a conference tournament (Division I level). In 2003, the Phoenix won three straight to close the regular season prior to the Big South Conference Tournament.

SEEDING HISTORY: This year marks Elon’s second time as the No. 8 seed in a conference tournament at the Division I level. The last time Elon was the No. 8 seed was 10 years ago in the 2005 Southern Conference Tournament. This year marks Elon’s 14th conference tournament at the Division I level. The Phoenix was not eligible to compete in the Big South Conference Tournament until the 2001-02 season.

Year   Seed  Rd. Eliminated         Opponent
2014   #4    Quarterfinals          Western Carolina
2013   #2    Semifinals             College of Charleston
2012   #2N   Semifinals             Davidson
2011   #4N   Quarterfinals          College of Charleston
2010   #6N   Quarterfinals          Western Carolina
2009   #5N   Quarterfinals          Chattanooga
2008   #7    Championship           Davidson
2007   #10   First Round            Western Carolina
2006   #2    Semifinals             Davidson
2005   #8    Quarterfinals          Davidson
2004   #3N   Quarterfinals          Davidson
2003   #4    Quarterfinals          UNC Asheville
2002   #5    Semifinals             Winthrop

MARCH MADNESS: Going into Friday’s game against Towson, Elon is 13-15 in the month of March during the school’s Division I era. Elon has never made the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level. Elon’s only postseason appearance at the D-I level was the 2013 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT).

LOOKING BACK: Elon closed the regular season with a convincing 74-55 victory over UNCW on Feb. 28, spoiling the Seahawks’ bid for the outright CAA regular season title. Elon held UNCW to 33.9 percent from the floor, the lowest percentage by CAA foe vs. Elon this season. Elon forced 16 turnovers and held UNCW to just one assist. Elon held UNCW without a three-point field goal (0-of-14) in the win. It marks the first time Elon held an opponent without a three since Nov. 10, 2013, at Marist. Elon’s 19-point margin of victory is the largest over a league foe since a 24-point win over Chattanooga on Jan. 24, 2013.

BRYANT HONORED: Elijah Bryant earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors for the sixth time this season on Feb. 28. Bryant averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds as Elon knocked off a pair of first-place teams last week. The freshman guard had a team-high 16 points, eight boards, four assists and three steals in a 72-65 win over Northeastern and followed with 13 points and eight caroms in a 74-55 victory against UNCW. He has tallied double figures in 25 of 31 games.

BEYOND THE ARC: With three triples against UNCW on Feb. 28, Tanner Samson now sits at 98 threes this season, good for first in the CAA (fifth nationally). Samson leads the CAA and ranks third nationally in three-point attempts with 272 – the most in a single season in school history. The previous record for three-point attempts in a season was 238 by Isenbarger in 2012-13. Samson currently sits at 237 career triples, good for fourth in program history. He trails Sebastian Koch (242), Chris Kiger (259) and Isenbarger (264) on the career chart.

CLIMBING THE CAA CHARTS: With 98 threes this season, Tanner Samson is two away from becoming only the fifth player CAA single-season history with 100 threes. With two threes, Samson will pass George Mason’s Donald Ross and William & Mary’s David Schneider for fifth in league history. Samson’s 272 three-point attempts this season are the fifth most in CAA single-season history.

FREEBIES: Elon’s 31 made free throws against UNCW on Feb. 28 are the most the team has made in a game since it made 38 in a triple overtime win against UNCG on Feb. 28, 2004. Elon’s 39 free throw attempts against the Seahawks are the most in a game since it attempted 48 in the 3OT win over UNCG in 2004. Elon also attempted 39 free throws on Feb. 25, 2012, against UNCG.

RECORD CROWD: A record crowd of 1,876 fans watched Elon top UNCW on Feb. 28 at Alumni Gym. It’s the highest attendance since Alumni Gym underwent renovations in 2010. It marked the 15th sellout under Matt Matheny, as Elon improved to 11-4 in sellouts under Matheny.

5+ THREES IN A GAME: Tanner Samson has made five or more threes in a game six times this season and 10 times overall in his career. Samson made six threes in Elon’s last game on Feb. 18 at CofC. The Elon record for threes in a game is nine by Sebastian Koch. Koch hit nine at 21st-ranked Colorado on Dec. 13, 2013. Samson came one shy of Koch’s mark earlier this season when he hit eight at Northwestern.

SINGLE-SEASON FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE: Going into Friday’s game against Towson, Christian Hairston has the best field goal percentage in a single season in school history (minimum 100 attempts). Hairston is shooting 62.5 percent (70-of-112) from the field this season. If the season ended today, he would top Richard McGeorge’s single-season field goal percentage record of 62.0 percent set in 1968-69 when McGeorge made 188-of-303 field goal attempts.

AHEAD AT THE HALF: Elon has been in the lead at halftime 11 times this season and has won 10 of those contests. Conversely, the Phoenix is 4-16 when trailing at intermission. Elon has led at halftime in back-to-back games going into Friday’s contest vs. Towson.

SENIOR CLASS: Elon’s senior class of Austin Hamilton, Kevin Blake and Ryan Winters have posted a total of 68 wins, tying last year’s senior class of Ryley Beaumont, Jack Isenbarger, Sebastian Koch, Lucas Troutman and Egheosa Edomwonyi for the most during the school’s Division I era.

292 AND COUNTING: The Elon men’s basketball program has made at least one three-point field goal in 292 consecutive games. The last time Elon did not make a three in a game was Jan. 30, 2006, at Georgia Southern when the team went 0-of-14 from deep.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Elon has forced at least 12 turnovers in 27 of its 31 games this season. Elon forced a season-high 21 turnovers against Charlotte on Nov. 16. The Phoenix forced 19 turnovers on Jan. 3 at Drexel, the most against a league opponent this season.

40-PERCENT MARK: Elon has a 13-7 record this season when it shoots 40+ percent from the floor. The Phoenix is 1-10 when it shoots below 40 percent, with its lone win coming on Feb. 28 against UNCW.

READY FOR LIFTOFF: When it’s all said and done, the Phoenix will have traveled a total of 17,415 miles on the road this season via flight and bus. Elon’s longest trip was a 5,764-mile round-trip to Cancun, Mexico. The team’s shortest trip was a 44-mile round-trip to the Greensboro Coliseum.

HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY: The 2014-15 season marks the sixth year at Elon for head coach Matt Matheny. Matheny enters Friday’s game with a career record of 91-99. Matheny was voted by the Southern Conference media as the Coach of the Year in 2012-13 and was a finalist for CollegeInsider.com’s Hugh Durham award, which honors the nation’s top mid-major coach.