ELON, N.C. – Paced by Tyler Seibring’s 21 points and a collective team effort defensively, Elon University men’s basketball earned its first Colonial Athletic Association win of the season with a thrilling 68-65 victory James Madison on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 30, inside Schar Center.
“We are thrilled with the way our guys prepared for this game and played inspired basketball to earn this victory,” said head coach Matt Matheny. “The team was resilient through the highs and lows of the game, they put together some really good stretches, and held on with some tough defensive stops at the end. We’re thrilled to smile and enjoy this hard-earned victory.”
Elon (5-10, 1-1 CAA) had three total players score in double-figures, which included Seibring’s 21 points. Steven Santa Ana flirted with a double-double, tallying 16 points and a team-best nine rebounds, while Kris Wooten posted a season-high 14 points in his second-career start, which included 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range. Additionally, Nathan Priddy added seven points and Federico Poser and Simon Wright combined for 10 points off the bench.
James Madison (7-8, 0-2 CAA) dropped its fifth straight contest with its loss to the Phoenix. Dwight Wilson recorded a double-double with game-high of 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Dukes. Also, Matt Lewis added 16 points and Stuckey Mosley tallied 10 points to round out JMU’s double-digit scorers.
After holding a nine-point halftime lead, the Phoenix jumped out to as much as a 17-point advantage in the second half before holding off the Dukes’ rally for the victory. Elon limited James Madison to just 41.1 percent shooting overall and 33.3 percent from three during the contest. In the second half, the Phoenix only allowed JMU to shoot 37.1 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent from deep.
James Madison jumped on the Phoenix early with an 11-0 run in the first four minutes, but Priddy’s triple ended the surge with 15:52 remaining in the half. Trailing 22-15 with 7:05 on the clock, Wooten’s two triples guided the Phoenix on an 8-0 spurt and its first lead of the game, 23-22, at the 5:28 mark.
After a quick three-pointer gave James Madison the lead back briefly at 25-22, the Phoenix outscored the Dukes 14-3 over the final five minutes to take a 37-28 lead at the break. Elon’s energy on the defensive end forced JMU to commit 13 turnovers and get into foul trouble. The Dukes racked up 17 personal fouls in the first 20 minutes and Elon drew six offensive fouls in the half.
At the start of the second half, Lewis hit a three to slice Elon’s lead to six, but the Phoenix answered with a 6-0 run capped off by Santa Ana’s layup at 17:19 to give Elon a 12-point lead, 43-31. James Madison then cut Elon’s lead back to single digits with 11:36 to play, 48-39, following a second-chance layup by Wilson.
Undaunted, the Phoenix went on a 10-2 run over then next two minutes and Seibring’s layup at the 9:11 mark gave Elon its largest lead of the game of 17 points, 58-41. However, a 15-3 run by the Dukes over nearly a six-minute span evaporated Elon’s large lead, cutting the deficit to 61-57 with 3:43 on the clock.
Seibring came in the clutch with a three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down on Elon’s next possession, putting the Phoenix ahead by seven with just over three minutes remaining. JMU’s fight continued as five unanswered points brought the Dukes within two points of the Phoenix, 64-62, following Lewis’ layup at the 2:02 mark.
Although layups from Seibring and Santa Ana pushed Elon’s lead to six with 53 seconds to go, Mosley came down the floor and hit a triple with 42 seconds remaining to make it a 68-65 scoreline.
Even though the maroon and gold missed the front end of two one-and-one opportunities, the Phoenix forced a turnover, James Madison missed two well-contested three-point attempts, and Elon held on for its first conference win of the season.
– Tyler Seibring has scored in double figures in 37 of his last 41 games after tallying 21 against the Dukes. He has scored 1,505 career points and is now just the 12th player in program history to score 1,500 points in a career.
– Steven Santa Ana has now scored double figures in 10 straight games after tallying 16 against the Dukes.
– In his second-career start, Kris Wooten finished with a season-best 14 points and four three-pointers.
– Elon snapped its two-game losing streak to the Dukes in the all-time series and now trails 7-3 overall.
The Phoenix makes its first conference road swing of the season starting on Thursday, Jan. 3, with a trip to Drexel to face the Dragons at 7 p.m. Elon will then head to Delaware on Saturday, Jan. 5, for a 7 p.m. matchup against the Blue Hens.