ELON, N.C. – Dmitri Thompson hit the game-winning jumper with 1:01 left in overtime and strong defensive stops at the end of regulation and on the last play in overtime guided Elon University men’s basketball to a 79-78 victory over South Florida on Thursday night, Nov. 30, inside Alumni Gym.
Tyler Seibring came up with a massive chase-down block at the end of regulation, the Phoenix (5-3) forced the Bulls (4-4) to go on a scoring drought for the final 2:39 of overtime, and Dainan Swoope made a big defensive stop on the final shot to seal the Elon victory.
This is the third-straight season that Elon has won an overtime game inside Alumni Gym on Nov. 30. The Phoenix defeated FIU in overtime 84-81 in 2016 and Elon prevailed with a 103-93 overtime win against Kennesaw State in 2015.
“We are thrilled with the victory,” said head coach Matt Matheny. “We could be very picky and pick apart what we did well and what we didn’t do well, and we will do that. But first and foremost we felt like it was a hard-fought and exciting game and we’re fortunate to have won it.”
Thompson led the way tying a career-high with 23 points, shooting an efficient 8-of-14 from the floor and finishing 4-of-6 from the free throw line. Brian Dawkins had a monster game on the boards grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds. Elon had four total players score in double figures. Seibring chipped in 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, Steven Santa Ana added 14 and grabbed six rebounds, and Swoope scored 13 points for the Phoenix.
Payton Banks led the Bulls’ attack with 23 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead USF. Stephan Jiggetts scored 21 points and finished 3-of-4 from three, while Terrence Samuel rounded out USF’s double-digit scorers with 14 points. Tulio Da Silva led the team on the boards with nine rebounds.
Elon got off to a great start taking an 8-3 lead after Santa Ana’s three-pointer at the 17:48 mark in the first half. USF would surge back to make it a one-point Phoenix lead 12-11 at 13:58 after Banks drained a jumper.
The game would tie up at 17-17 with 10:09 remaining in the half, but the Phoenix responded with a 6-0 run, which was capped off by Santa Ana’s fast-break dunk off his steal and Elon took a 23-17 lead with 7:38 on the clock.
USF took its second lead of the game 30-28 with just under four minutes remaining in the half, but the Phoenix would take a 36-34 lead into halftime after a back-and-forth battle in the opening 20 minutes.
Santa Ana opened the second half with a three and Banks responded with a triple of his own as the Phoenix held a 39-37 lead in the opening minutes. Elon continued to maintain its lead until the 12:03 mark when Da Silva’s free throw tied the game at 49 apiece.
The Bulls would tie up the score three more times over the next four minutes, with the third time coming at the 9:24 mark when Jiggetts’ jumper knotted the score at 55-55.
Elon out together a 9-2 run over the next 3:23 and record its largest lead of the game of seven twice during the spurt. The run gave the Phoenix a 64-57 lead after Santa Ana’s layup at the 5:40 mark.
Undaunted, USF responded with a 9-3 surge over the next two minutes, cutting Elon’s lead back to one, 67-66, with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. The Bulls leveled the score at 70-70 with 1:21 in remaining after Samuel’s layup.
After a two turnovers by the Phoenix on back-to-back possessions, USF had a chance to win the game with 3.4 seconds remaining. Da Silva broke away and got a good look at a layup, but Seibring came through with a chase-down block to send the game into overtime tied at 70-70.
Swoope scored the first points of the overtime period with a driving layup, but the Bulls responded with a three from Banks to give USF a 73-72 lead at the 4:23 mark. The lead changed eight times during the overtime period with USF’s last lead coming at 78-77 with 2:37 remaining.
The Phoenix held USF without a field goal over the final 2:49 of the contest. Thompson’s game-winning jumper came with 1:01 left on the clock to give the Phoenix a 79-78 lead. After Elon forced another South Florida miss, USF forced the Phoenix into a shot-clock violation, giving the ball back to the Bulls with 9.2 seconds remaining.
Jiggetts had one final shot attempt to win the game for the Bulls, but Swoope contested the shot well and forced a miss to seal Elon’s overtime victory.
– Elon has won an overtime game inside Alumni Gym on Nov. 30 for the third straight season. The Phoenix defeated FIU in overtime 84-81 in 2016 and Elon prevailed with a 103-93 overtime win against Kennesaw State in 2015.
– South Florida was the first member of the American Athletic Conference to visit Alumni Gym in Elon program history.
– Despite having his four-game 20+ point scoring streak snapped, Swoope finished in double figures for the sixth consecutive game and for the seventh time overall this season.
– The Phoenix recorded 18 assists on the team’s 31 total baskets against USF. Eight of the nine players that saw action recorded at least one assist in the game.
– One of the keys to the victory was that the Elon outrebounded USF 43-39 in the contest, including 13-10 on the offensive boards.
The Phoenix closes its three-game homestand on Saturday, Dec. 2, against 2017 CIT Champion Saint Peter’s at 7 p.m. inside Alumni Gym. The game will be available on Phoenix All-Access and the Elon IMG Sports Network.