Phoenix Win Season Opener in 90-84 Thriller Over Mars Hill
ELON, N.C. – Elon University men’s basketball had four players score in double figures and outlasted Mars Hill 90-84 to earn a victory in its first regular season game Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Schar Center.
The Phoenix was led by senior guard Marcus Sheffield who poured in 24 points, five rebounds and four assists on the evening. Sheffield also got things done on the defensive end of the court, tallying two blocks on the evening.
Elon also got a major boost from sophomore forward Federico Poser, who tallied 14 points, eight boards and five assists, while shooting 7-of-10 from the floor. Poser’s energy off the bench was a major difference throughout, as he led the team in assists and finished second in rebounds in the win.
Hunter Woods and Hunter McIntosh also played big roles in the win over Mars Hill on Tuesday. Woods finished with 10 points and a team leading nine rebounds, while McIntosh dropped 16 points and three assists, draining four threes along the way.
Mars Hill was led by Austin Gilyard, who scored 28 points and grabbed four rebounds. Javonte Cooke added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Lions.
Both teams came out strong on the defensive side of the ball early in the first half with neither side being able to gain a distinctive advantage. With just under 15 minutes remaining in the opening half, Woods knocked down a three to give Elon an early 9-7 lead just before a timeout.
The two sides traded buckets over the next ten minutes to bring the score to an even 33-33 with 4:11 remaining before the half. From that point, the Phoenix took over. After Mars Hill’s Ja’Shawn Brooks knocked down a three to give the Lions a 36-35 lead, Elon didn’t allow another point for the remaining three minutes of the half.
With just over two minutes before the break, Zac Ervin knocked down a three that sparked a 13-0 Phoenix that culminated in a step-back three by McIntosh just before the buzzer sounded. The run put Elon up 48-36 at the halfway point.
Mars Hill came out of the gates swinging in the second half and were able to fight their way back into the game early in the half. Javonte Cooke’s and-1 with just over 15 minutes to play trimmed the Phoenix lead to three.
With the Phoenix up 66-63 with 8:26 to go in the game, McIntosh found a seem in the defense and cut back-door where Poser was able to hit him in stride for an easy deuce. A few moments later, Elon went back to the same play but this time it was Sheffield on the receiving end of a Poser pass that he took and elevated above everyone for the slam. Elon’s run culminated in a McIntosh three on a pass from Poser that extended the lead back to 10 with just over seven minutes remaining.
After a four point play by Mars Hill’s Austin Gilyard cut the Phoenix lead to 83-80 with under a minute left to play, Elon’s Simon Wright got open in the corner where Woods hit him right in the shooting pocket for a dagger three.
Elon closed out the game by knocking down four consecutive free throws to secure the 90-84 win.
– With today’s win, Elon earned its first victory under first-year head coach Mike Schrage
– The Phoenix shot the ball 43.7 percent from the floor, including a blistering 52.2 percent clip from beyond the arc.
– The Phoenix went to the line 21 times, making 16 of its attempts from the charity stripe
– Elon outrebounded Mars Hill 45-38, including a 13-9 advantage on the offensive glass
– Elon tallied 21 assists in the win, compared to just 15 for Mars Hill
– The Phoenix improves to 1-0 on the season with the win.
The Phoenix will be back in action on Friday, Nov. 8, when it hosts Milligan at 7 p.m. at Schar Center. Following that contest, Elon will hit the road for the first time this season when it travels to Atlanta, Ga. for a road contest with Georgia Tech. That game will take place on Monday, Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m.