ELON, N.C. – In front of a program record 5,245 fans at Schar Center on Friday night, Nov. 9, Elon University kicked off a new era of men’s basketball in the University’s new convocation center with a game against the seventh-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. Though Elon lost 116-67, the game signaled the continuance of an exciting time for Elon basketball after hosting the Tar Heels for the first time in 68 years.
“Regardless of the outcome tonight was a special night,” said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. “This has been talked about for a long, long time and the first thing I’d like to say is for Coach Roy Williams and North Carolina to be willing to help us open up Schar Center men’s basketball was really special. We got a lot of attention nationwide because of not only this beautiful facility we love, but the fact a program like North Carolina was willing to open the building. Tonight was a special night. We wish we would’ve played a little better but in the first half we went toe to toe and did a lot of good things but North Carolina is good. But it was a special night for our University.”
Early on, Elon (1-1) led North Carolina (2-0) 8-4 with four Tyler Seibring points, a Steven Santa Ana three-pointer and a Sheldon Eberhardt free throw. After taking a 10-9 lead to the first media timeout, Eberhardt hit another layup to put Elon up 12-9 before UNC went on a run to take a seven-point lead at 21-14 with 12:34 to go in the opening half.
While Elon battled back to cut the lead to three at 25-22 after a pair of Seibring free throws and at 27-24 after two Dainan Swoope free throws, the Tar Heels started slowly pulling away and pushed the lead to double digits for the first time with 6:26 to play in the half.
With UNC leading by 18 at the break, the Tar Heels moved the lead to as many as 34 in the opening 10 minutes of the second half and never looked back from there on the way to the 116-67 win.
Eberhardt led Elon with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Santa Ana also finished with 14 points and hit all four of his shots from the floor from three-point range. Seibring was the third Phoenix in double figures with 10 points and four assists.
UNC was led by Cameron Johnson and Nassir Little each scoring 21 points while Luke Maye finished with a game-high 10 rebounds. All 15 players to play for UNC scored in the game.
Elon will host its second game inside its new home on Thursday, Nov. 15, when it hosts Milligan at 7 p.m.