The Elon men’s basketball team will be feeling good going into the New Year as the Phoenix close out 2014 on a three-game winning streak following a 69-64 win over Marist College on Sunday, Dec. 28, afternoon.
The Phoenix held off a late surge from Marist after leading by as many as 19 in the second half thanks to a career-high 20 points from senior guard Kevin Blake. Marist’s Chavaughn Lewis finished with a career and game-high 30 points in the loss for the Red Foxes. The Phoenix got off to an ugly start falling behind 7-4 inside the first four minutes of the contest. Elon missed its first four shots from the field while also turning over the ball on four occasions.
With the game tied at three, back-to-back threes from junior guard Tanner Samson and Blake gave Elon a 6-point cushion at the 10:18 mark.
Marist made just two baskets in the final 10 minutes of the first half, allowing Elon to take a commanding lead. A jumper and a three from Blake capped off a 9-0 run for Elon to take a 24-11 lead with 4:27 remaining in the opening period.
The Phoenix extended their lead even further to 16 on three occasions in the final minutes and went into the half leading 34-18.
Lewis scored 13 of Marist’s 18 first half points and accounted for all but one of the team’s made field-goals during the opening 20 minutes. Lewis went 4-10 from the field including 4-6 from the charity stripe, while the Phoenix held the rest of the Red Foxes to 1-11 from the field.
Elon closed out the first half shooting just under 40 percent from the field and a solid 3-6 from downtown.
The Phoenix continued to lead as play resumed in the second half. Blake’s dunk in transition opened the second half scoring to take a 36-18 lead.
A three from junior forward Phillip Lawrence cut Marist’s deficit to 12 with 13:16 remaining, but Elon wouldn’t let the Red Foxes get much closer. Elon went on a quick 6-0 spurt to extend their lead back to 18.
A free-throw from freshman guard Elijah Bryant extended Elon’s lead to a game-high 19 with 9:50 remaining. However, Marist responded with a 10-2 run of their own to keep the game competitive for the final eight minutes.
Marist continued to pressure the Phoenix and got the game back to within single digits at 55-46 with 5:04 remaining. Though, another three from Samson and a lay-in from sophomore forward Christian Hairston extended Elon’s lead back out to 14.
But Marist would not go away. Back-to-back turnovers from Bryant and Hairston led to three’s on the other end for Marist cutting the lead to 60-54 with 1:42 remaining.
Bryant made free-throws down the stretch and Blake added another dunk to cancel out Marist’s desperation in the final seconds. Thomas’ made it a 6-point game again with just :15 seconds remaining, and a lay-up from Lawrence cut their deficit to five with :02 remaining, but it was simply a case of too little, too-late for Marist.
Elon will take the floor for the first time in 2015 when they play their first Colonial Athletic Association matchup against Drexel University. Tip is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. at Alumni Gym.