WILLIAMSBURG, VA. – It came down to the final possession, but the Elon University men’s basketball team’s rally in the final minutes came up just short in an 88-85 setback at William & Mary on Thursday night, Jan. 5, inside Kaplan Arena.
Down three with 5.1 seconds left, Elon (8-8, 0-3 CAA) had a chance to send the game to overtime and complete an nine-point comeback, but Tyler Seibring’s three rimmed out as the final buzzer sounded to allow the Tribe (8-6, 2-1 CAA) to escape with the victory.
Steven Santa Ana tied a Division I program record, draining nine three pointers against the Tribe en route to a team-high 29 points. The sophomore finished 9-of-11 from behind the arc. In addition to Santa Ana, four other Phoenix finished in double-figures. Dainan Swoope scored 15, while Tyler Seibring, Brian Dawkins and Luke Eddy added 11 points each.
“I’m proud of the growth of our team,” said head coach Matt Matheny “It’s already been a challenging week for everybody in the conference and it will continue on Saturday. Our team is reliant on young players. We are growing from this process. We want to win, but we are growing. I love the fight in our team. We didn’t defend them well in the second half. To their credit, they ran their stuff very well, and every mistake we made they made us pay. We fought and stayed in the game and we had a shot to tie it.”
William & Mary was led by Daniel Dixon’s game-high 32 points and eight rebounds. Jack Whitman and Greg Malinowski added 11 points each for the Tribe.
A layup with 5.8 seconds remaining by Santa Ana put the Phoenix within a point, 86-85, the closest margin since Elon and William & Mary were tied 70-70 with 6:18 on the clock.
Dixon made two at the line to give the Tribe a three-point lead with 5.1 seconds remaining. But the Phoenix could not get over the hump on the game’s final possession to send it to OT.
In the first half, Santa Ana scored 18 points on 6-of-7 shooting from three-point land helping the Phoenix jump out to a 44-38 lead. As a team, Elon shot a blistering 53.3% (16-30) from the floor, including 11-of-19 (57.9%) from the three-point line in the first period.
Following a Dawkins layup to open the second stanza, William & Mary mounted an 11-0 run to take a 53-50 lead at the 15:52 mark. The Phoenix would take a three-point lead, 58-55, at 12:08. But the maroon and gold wouldn’t lead again until the 6:36 mark when Santa Ana’s hit his eighth three pointer of the night to give the Phoenix a 70-69 lead.
The Tribe went on a 14-4 run over the next 3:51 to take a nine-point lead, 83-74, with 2:27 remaining.
– Steven Santa Ana tied former 1,000-point scorer Sebastian Koch for the Elon single-game Division I record for threes in a game with nine versus William & Mary. Koch hit nine at Colorado on Dec. 13, 2013.
– Santa Ana also tied the single-game mark for threes in a game inside William & Mary’s Kaplan Arena.
– The Phoenix made 16 triples on the night, a season-high for Elon. The last time the Phoenix made 16 or more triples in a game was when Elon made 18 last season against Alabama State on Dec. 16, 2015.
– It is also the sixth time that a Matt Matheny-coached Elon team has made 16 or more threes in a game
– Santa Ana scored 20+ points in a game for the fourth time in his career.
– Brian Dawkins scored in double figures for the 14th time this season with 11 against the Tribe, which is a team-best.
Elon returns home for a Jan. 7 matchup against the Towson Tigers. Tip time is 7 p.m. at Alumni Gym.