It was a night where the Elon University men’s basketball team just couldn’t seem to get over the hump in a closely-contested 67-63 loss to Drexel University on Thursday, Feb. 5.
“It’s a tough game man.” Head coach Matt Matheny said, “It’s tough, our guys can really hang their heads but they don’t do that and they know that we are climbing a pretty steep mountain.”
The loss marks the third in a row for the Phoenix and the seventh out of its past eight games.
Junior guard Tanner Samson led the team in scoring with 22 total points. Samson had an efficient night shooting from three-point range as he finished with five 3-pointers along with his eight field goals.
“My teammates did a great job at setting screens for me.” Samson said, “We just moved around and set better screens as a whole and as a team so I think that helped give me looks.”
Following him was senior guard Austin Hamilton who continued his string of efficient games, finishing with 10 points off of four field goals and two free throws. Hamilton led the team in assists with eight.
The Phoenix got off to a slow start offensively and defensively against Drexel which was led by leading scorer, junior guard Damion Lee. Lee scored 13 of his 16 total points in the first half alone. With 7:03 left in opening half, Drexel had the largest lead of the evening when it was up by 13 points.
Elon slowly chipped away at the Drexel lead all the way up to the end of the half when freshman forward Collin Luther nailed a buzzer-beating lay-up to draw the Phoenix to within five as both teams entered its locker rooms at 31-26.
At the start of the second half it looked as if Elon was about to take the lead, however Drexel began to pull away as it did earlier in the game when it started to get more production from its starters. Four of Drexel’s starting five wound up finishing in double-figure points with junior guard Tavon Allen and freshman guard Sammy Mojica both finishing with 14.
As it finished the first half, the Phoenix fought its way back into the game, pulling to within four after a 3-pointer by freshman guard Elijah Bryant with under 5 minutes left to play.
The effort proved to be too little, too late for Elon as Drexel would go on to survive the late Phoenix run and finish with a four-point victory.
“I think we took a step forward during this game.” Junior center Tony Sabato said, “We played a lot better than we played last week; we fought defensively. We wish it would have went our way but we have to keep fighting and keep our heads up.”
Elon will travel to Hofrsta University for a game on Feb. 7. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Hempstead, New York.