The Elon University men’s basketball team defeated Northeastern University on Thursday, 72-65. The win marks the Phoenix’s second consecutive victory and its first back-to-back wins in conference play.
Elon and Northeastern traded the lead throughout the first half, with the Phoenix leading by as many as 11 point with 7:59 to play. The Huskies, however, were not phased, coming back to take a four point lead just before the half. With 1:12 left, senior guard Austin Hamilton drained a three pointer to put the Phoenix within one. On the ensuing Phoenix possession, freshman guard Dmitri Thompson made a jumper to give Elon a 28-27 lead at the intermission. After halftime, the Phoenix took control of the game, never surrendering the lead, and staying ahead by as many as 12.
“We had an edge to us,” said coach Matt Matheny. “We were resilient, we were tough and to be up at halftime was a good lift.”
Freshman guard Elijah Bryant led the way offensively for the Phoenix, scoring 16 points. Bryant, a had a 7-0 personal run to start that ignited the team to start the second half. Junior guard Tanner Samson added 13 points, while Thompson had 12. Sophomore guard Christian Hairston converted all four of his shots from the floor, finishing with nine points. The Phoenix shot just 41 percent from the floor in the first half, but improved to 57 percent for the second half.
“I think we’re making better decisions,” Matheny said. “We’re turning the ball over less, and when you turn the ball over less, you have more shot attempts.”
The game was physical, with the Phoenix narrowly outrebounding the Huskies, 33-32. The foul ratio was also close, with Northeastern only committing one foul more than Elon. Northeastern forward Quincy Ford fouled out at the end of the game. Ford was held to only six points on the night, compared to 12 when the teams met in Boston on Jan. 31. The Phoenix had 25 points off the bench, with Thompson and Hairston contributing along with freshman forward Jack Anton, who had 4.
“We’ve done a better job on defense,” Hairston said. “Coach has always said he wants our best basketball towards March, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
In the first matchup between the two teams, Northeastern prevailed, 80-61. The Phoenix fell behind early and could not recover, conceding 19 to Husky guard Zach Stahl, who scored just eight in Thursday’s contest.
The victory gives the Phoenix a 13-17 overall record, with a 5-12 conference record. Northeastern falls to 19-11 overall with an 11-6 conference record. Elon finishes the regular season at home against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington on Saturday for senior night at 7 p.m.