ELON, N.C. – Elon University men’s basketball fell to Drexel, 63-56, in the Championship of the 2021 CAA Tournament on Tuesday, March 9. Despite the loss, the Phoenix’s seven game winning streak was the longest for the program since joining the CAA, and its berth into the CAA Championship game was the first in program history.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” head coach Mike Schrage explained. “It wasn’t even a month ago when we were in Charleston and we lost that first game, and we turned the page that next day and the guys have taken us on a tremendous ride since then. I told the guys – whatever our record was, whatever we went through this year with injuries and interruptions – they kept us positive, they kept us believing and it was really a two-way street. Of course we try to do that with them but they really did that for us. They just came to work every day and believed at the highest level. They’re so genuine, and things turn and start to get better when you care for your teammates and you are a great teammate and when you care about everything you do and you represent – especially at a special school like Elon. I thought that’s why we turned it this year, because of the players but more importantly the kind of people we have in that locker room. So I’m really just proud of them.”
– With Elon leading 11-9 with 13:25 remaining in the first half, Michael Graham’s layup off a pretty assist from Hunter McIntosh sparked a 6-0 Phoenix run. After Hunter Woods made a tough floater in the paint on the next possession, Graham cleaned up an Elon miss with a tough put-back at the rim to extend the lead to 17-9.
– Drexel fought back from there, eventually tying the game at 19. Both sides traded scores for most of the remainder of the opening half, but Drexel entered the break with a 32-27 advantage.
– The Phoenix continued to battle in the second half, cutting the deficit down to four with 8:26 remaining in the game after Ikenna Ndugba found some space in the paint and got a tough layup to go. Drexel would respond with back-to-back threes to go back up by 10 with just over six and a half minutes to play.
– Elon fought back again, going on a 9-3 burst of its own, sparked by an Ndugba steal that lead to a Darius Burford fast-break finish on the other end. After scores by Woods and Ndugba trimmed the deficit to six, Hunter McIntosh capped the spurt with a pull-up three with just over a minute to play. The run left the Phoenix down by just four in the closing moments of the game.
– Hunter McIntosh led the way for Elon, dropping 19 points, including a 3-of-6 mark from beyond the arc, adding two rebounds.
– Ikenna Ndugba chipped in 16 points, and four assists in just over 37 minutes of action for the Phoenix.
– Hunter Woods and Michael Graham combined for 12 points and eight rebounds on the night.
– Elon held a 34-22 advantage in points in the paint and a 13-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
– Hunter McIntosh and Ikenna Ndugba were both named the the CAA’s All-Tournament Team following the game.
– The Phoenix rounded out the season with a 10-9 overall record, marking the first winning season for the program since 2016-17.
– Elon’s seven game winning-streak is the longest for the program since joining the CAA in 2014.
– The Phoenix’s berth into the CAA Championship game was the first in program history.
– Elon became the first No. 8 seed to advance to the Championship game of the CAA Tournament in league history.
– The Phoenix has now won a combined five games in the last two CAA Tournaments after advancing to the semifinals in 2019-20 and the Championship this season.