ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s basketball team held off a late rally by the Dragons and defeated Drexel 83-78 for its first CAA victory of the season on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 2, inside Alumni Gym.
Tanner Samson led Elon (10-5, 1-1 CAA) with 19 points and seven rebounds. Steven Santa Ana set a season-high with 18 points shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Dmitri Thompson finished with 11 points and seven boards, while Luke Eddy dished out a game-high seven assists for the Phoenix.
Tavon Allen and Rodney Williams scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed seven boards each for the Drexel Dragons (2-11, 0-2 CAA).
“Defensively we were maybe the best we’ve been this season in the first half and I thought we were good offensively,” said head coach Matt Matheny. “In the second half, it was a really tough and physical conference game. It’s a battle, every night. I thought we competed tonight and we’re happy about the victory, but we have a lot to work on too.”
Elon got off to a good start with an 11-4 run over the first 3:39 in the game after an and-one by Jack Anton in the paint. Although Drexel brought it within three 13-10 at 14:42, the Phoenix surged out to an 18-point lead 31-13 after an 18-3 run over the next 8:05 capped off by a Santa Ana jumper.
Drexel clawed its way back into the game outscoring the Phoenix 13-7 in the final five minutes of the half and Elon held a 36-28 lead at the break. Santa Ana was key hitting three triples in the half on five attempts.
In the second half, Elon maintained a solid lead over the Dragons over the next 16 minutes, and got out to its largest second-half lead at 74-60 with 4:28 remaining in the half.
Drexel mounted an 18-8 run over the next 3:51 and fought back to make it a four-point game at 82-78 with 19 seconds remaining. After calling two timeouts and drawing a foul, Samson hit a free throw with seven seconds to play and the Phoenix held off the Dragon’s comeback for the 83-78 victory.
– Underclassmen scored 53 of the teams 83 points tonight in the victory over Drexel.
– Santa Ana finished with a season-high 18 points on a season-high seven made field goals. His previous high was 17 against Wesley College on Dec. 13.
– Elon splits its opening week in CAA play for the second consecutive season after a loss to Northeastern and a win over Drexel.
– Head coach Matt Matheny is now 3-1 at Elon in games coming off a conference opening loss.
Elon has a home and road CAA split next week. The Phoenix begins at James Madison on Thursday, Jan. 7 for a 7p.m. tipoff against the Dukes, followed by a home contest against Hofstra on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 6 p.m. Elon’s contest against the Pride will be broadcasted on American Sports Network (ASN).