DEKALB, Ill. – Senior guard Luke Eddy was perfect from the floor and scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Elon University men’s basketball team to a 72-66 victory over the Cal Poly Mustangs on Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Convocation Center. With the win, the Phoenix clinched the NIU Thanksgiving Classic Championship finishing the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record.
“It was a great and tough win to finish a great weekend,” said head coach Matt Matheny. ” We’re proud of the way our players fought to defend a tough matchup. We played really well together.”
Eddy led the way for Elon with a game-high 25 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting from the floor and 4-of-4 from three. He also finished 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Dmitri Thompson also finished in double-figures scoring 14 and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. Sheldon Eberhardt had a solid game off the bench chipping in nine points. Steven Santa Ana led the team with five helpers.
Victor Joseph led the Mustangs with 23 points. Ridge Shipley added 14 for Cal Poly and Jaylen Shead had game-highs with eight rebounds and seven assists.
The Phoenix finished the tournament with victories over Cal Poly, UIC, and the host Northern Illinois. Elon is off to it’s best six-game start in the program’s Division I era (since 1999) with a 5-1 mark to start the season. It’s the first time that Elon has won five of its first six games since the 1987-88 campaign.
Cal Poly took an 11-point lead, 28-17, after the first 11:32 of the game and the Phoenix called a timeout after a Mustangs’ jumper by Joseph. It would end up being Cal Poly’s largest lead of the contest. The Phoenix responded with an 11-2 run capped off by Eddy’s four-point play to cut Cal Poly’s lead to 30-28 with 4:51 left in the first half.
Elon was able to take a 35-34 lead with 1:06 left in the period, but the Mustangs drained a three-pointer before the half to take a slim 37-35 lead into the break.
After the Mustangs opened the second half with a 5-0 run, the Phoenix answered with an 18-5 run over the next 8:35 to take a 53-47 lead following three Eddy free throws. Cal Poly countered with a 10-4 run to tie the game again 57-57 with 4:31 left in the game.
It would be a key 12-1 run over the next 3:19 that gave the Phoenix it’s largest lead of the game 69-58 with 58 seconds to go. Elon did not make a field goal over the final 2:36, but the Phoenix made its free throws down the stretch to clinch the 72-66 victory over the Mustangs.
– Elon is off to a 5-1 start, the first time in the program’s Division I era. Elon’s last 5-1 start was during the 1987-88 season.
– Luke Eddy finished 6-of-6 from the floor and is the second player in Elon’s Division I era to finish perfect from the floor with a minimum of six makes. Jackson Atoyebi was the last Elon player to do so on Feb. 26, 2003 at Coastal as he finished 10-of-10 from the floor.
– It’s the first preseason tournament championship for the Phoenix since winning the EA Sports Maui Invitational mainland tournament in 2012 at Alumni Gym.
– Luke Eddy score 25 points for the Phoenix. Three different Elon players recorded a 20+ point game in three consecutive matchups.
– It was only the second time this season that the Phoenix had less than four players score in double-figures.
– The score was tied five times and there was a total of seven lead changes.
– The Phoenix shot above 50% from the field for the third time this season shooting 51.1% (23-45) against the Mustangs.
– Elon outrebounded its opponent for the fourth time this season against Cal Poly, winning the battle of the boards 34-23.
The Phoenix returns home on Wednesday, Nov. 30, to face the FIU Panthers inside Alumni Gym. The game will tip off at 7 p.m.