The Elon University men’s basketball team lost to James Madison on Saturday, 86-75. Despite a strong offensive showing by Elon, the Dukes overpowered the Phoenix on the other end of the floor.
Freshman guard Elijah Bryant scored 18 points, while senior guard Austin Hamilton had 16. Freshman guard Dmitri Thompson had 14, one of his strongest efforts of the season.
“It’s a difficult pill to swallow,” said head coach Matt Matheny of the loss. “We’re getting better offensively, and we’re getting more comfortable.”
Despite its successes on offense, the Phoenix struggled to contain James Madison on the other end of the floor. The Dukes shot 61 percent on the night compared to the Phoenix’s 43 percent. James Madison also made 55 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.
“It came down to stops, and we didn’t get the ones we needed down the stretch,” Hamilton said. “We had to defend, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Elon was outrebounded by James Madison 31-27. The Phoenix grabbed a total of 16 rebounds defensively, which was not enough to keep the Dukes from pulling ahead.
James Madison’s Ron Curry kept the Phoenix on their toes throughout the evening, scoring 25 points and making 60 percent of his shots from three-point range. Forward Yohanny Dalembert added 15 more and grabbed 9 boards, giving the Dukes a physical presence in the paint.
Despite being down by as many as 10 in the first half, the Phoenix fought its way back to make the score 38-32 by halftime. With 3:48 to play in the second half, Bryant made two free throws to pull Elon within five. Curry came back on the next possession and buried a triple, and the Dukes would hold onto the lead for the rest of the game.
While the Phoenix kept the score close for most of the game, the Dukes led for over 34 minutes. James Madison missed just four shots in the second half, shooting 77 percent from the field and 83 percent from beyond the arc. While the Phoenix were able to score, it was not able to keep pace with the hot-handed Dukes.
The loss marks the sixth straight and eleventh of the year for Elon, which is currently in the middle of conference play.
“There are brighter days ahead,” Matheny said. “I don’t know when they are, but our leadership is strong, and it’s reflected in the way we compete.”
The Phoenix return to action on Feb. 18, when it travels to Charleston, S.C. to take on College of Charleston at 7 p.m. The game marks Elon’s second to last road game in CAA play, before it returns home for the final two games before the CAA championship.