As sophomore forward Karolis Kundrotas scored on four consecutive possessions, he slowly felt a weight lifted and a sense of relief coming upon him.
Kundrotas provided the nine-point burst that turned the tides in favor of the Elon University men’s basketball team, powering the Phoenix to a 72-61 victory against Towson University on Saturday night at Alumni Gym as it snapped a three-game losing skid in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) action.
The start wasn’t ideal — Elon missed its first nine from the field — but Kundrotas helped spark a promising result against a stifling Towson defense that’s given Elon fits in past years.
In fact, in each of the last two years, Elon’s worst shooting performance of the season came against Towson.
That wasn't the case on this evening, as a 14-4 run and eight straight makes from the field midway through the first half gave the Phoenix its first CAA victory.
“It lifts a lot of weight off our shoulders,” Kundrotas said. “We’ll have a little bit more of a swagger coming into our next game.”
Towson opened up to a 19-6 lead, prompting an Elon timeout. Then, quickly, Kundrotas supplied what would end up being the turning point.
Sophomore guard Steven Santa Ana found him wide open underneath twice for layups, then Kundrotas buried a 3-pointer from the corner.
And, finally, he was open again in the post, as senior guard Luke Eddy provided the assist to bring Elon within two.
Sophomore forward Tyler Seibring hit a jumper to tie it, then Santa Ana hit a three — Elon’s eighth consecutive make.
“We attacked from the start,” said sophomore guard Dainan Swoope. “They went on a run, and we did a really good job bouncing back.
“We’ve gotten ourselves in holes early in the game, but this is the first time we’ve been able to dig ourselves out. We have to build off that and learn from it and not get in those holes.”
Santa Ana led Elon with 15 points, and Swoope had 12. Redshirt-junior forward Brian Dawkins and Kundrotas each supplied 10.
The victory comes on the heels of a stretch of four games in eight days to open CAA play. Both Elon and Towson entered Saturday night at 0-3 in the league.
Twice in the past three years, Towson has limited Elon to 31 percent or worse from the field.
But the Phoenix was 42.3 percent from the field Saturday. The Phoenix grabbed 37 rebounds — tied for its most in six meetings against Towson over the last three years — and held Towson senior forward William Adala Moto and junior guard Mike Morsell, both Preseason All-CAA honorees, to a combined 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting.
“They’re strong and physical and good defensively,” said Elon coach Matt Matheny. “I thought our flow was a lot better — when I say our flow, I mean our motion offense. We took some good shots, and at the same time, we were aggressive.”
With Elon up just six at the last media timeout, Seibring and Swoope each hit 3s. Then, Swoope deflected a pass and collected the loose ball — which bounced off a referee — and turned it into a transition layup.
Junior guard Deshaun Morman had 13 points for Towson, and senior forward John Davis added 11.