ELON, N.C. – Dainan Swoope finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Brian Dawkins added a 21-point performance as Elon University men’s basketball held on to defeat Radford 77-74 on the eve of Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 22, inside Alumni Gym.
After Justin Cousin’s three-pointer for Radford tied the contest at 74-74 with 1:44 remaining, the Phoenix scored the final three points and forced Christian Bradford to shoot an air ball three at the buzzer as Elon held on for the three-point win.
Elon improves to 4-3 overall with the victory and Radford’s record falls to 2-2 with the loss.
“We are thrilled with the victory and there were stretches of really good play by our guys,” said head coach Matt Matheny. “I like some of the things we’re doing. We’ve played a lot of games in a short amount of time and I like the way we held up physically and mentally. We’re still making mistakes, it’s early in the season, but I know we are a better team now than we were at the start the season.”
Swoope also grabbed a team-best eight rebounds and made five three pointers in the contest. Dawkins was efficient shooting 56.3 percent (9-16) from the floor. Tyler Seibring finished with a team-high six assists to add to his six points and five rebounds. The Phoenix as a team made a season-high 15 three pointers and recorded 20 assists on 28 made baskets.
Donald Hicks and Justin Cousin each scored 15 points to lead the Highlanders. Caleb Tanner scored 10 points and Carlik Jones grabbed a team-best eight rebounds. Radford also had scoring contributions from the bench, getting 35 total points from its substitutes.
The Phoenix opened the game with an 8-0 run, which was capped off by a Dawkins three at the 17:31 mark. Over the next 6:43, the Phoenix continued its hot start outscoring Radford 15-9 during the frame to give Elon its largest lead of 14 points, 23-9, with 10:32 remaining in the half.
Radford cut into the Phoenix lead with a 14-2 run over a 4:26 span to slice into Elon’s lead. Leroy Butts IV capped off the run with the jumper to make it a 34-33 Phoenix lead and Elon called a timeout with 1:29 remaining in the half.
Elon ended the half with a 6-0 run on three-pointers from Steven Santa Ana and Swoope over the final 1:29 to extend its lead to 40-33 at the break.
The Phoenix made 50 percent (15-30) of its shots from the field in the first half, including making 10 three pointers on a 58.8 percent clip.
Radford opened the second half cutting Elon’s lead to three at 49-46 with 15:24 to play, but Seibring zipped a pass to Santa Ana for an easy layup to put Elon back in front by five. After two Swoope free throws at the 14:08 mark put the Phoenix ahead 53-48, Radford mounted a 9-4 run to tie the game 57-57, which was capped off by a Hicks three with 10:51 remaining.
Dawkins hit back-to-back three-pointers in the next 48 seconds to lift Elon back in front by six, 63-57 with 9:37 left to play, but Radford answered with a 7-0 run over the next 1:30 and Butts IV’s three gave the Highlanders its first lead of the game at 64-63 with 7:46 remaining.
Swoope would score eight straight points in the next two minutes and Santa Ana ended a 10-2 Elon charge over the next 3:13 to give the Phoenix 73-66 lead with 5:17 left on the clock. Cousin’s three-pointer with 1:44 remaining concluded an 8-1 Radford run over the next two minutes to tie the game 74-74, which forced the Phoenix to call a timeout.
Dawkins made a layup with 35 seconds left and Dmitri Thompson made a free throw to give Elon a 77-74 lead with 13.5 seconds remaining. After Elon used its foul to give with 4.6 second remaining, the Phoenix forced Bradford to shoot an air ball three at the buzzer and Elon held on for the win.
– Dainan Swoope scored 24 points for the Phoenix, his fourth consecutive 20+ point game. He has averaged 23.75 points per game.
– Brian Dawkins finished with a season-high 21 points, his fourth-career 20-point game in the maroon and gold.
– The Phoenix made a season-high 15 three-pointers against the Highlanders.
– Elon recorded a season-high 20 assists on the team’s 28 total baskets against Radford. Six different players recorded two or more assists in the game.
– This was the first time this season Elon did not have at least three players in double figures. Swoope (24) and Dawkins (21) were the only players in double figures against Radford.
– The Phoenix completes its tough stretch of seven games in 13 days to open the 2017-18 season. Elon will have a week-long break before its next game on Nov. 30 against USF.
Following a seven-day break, the Phoenix returns to Alumni Gym on Thursday, Nov. 30, to face the South Florida Bulls at 7 p.m.