Elon (12-9, 4-4) tried to get back on track after a devastating loss on the road to James Madison University Thursday, Jan. 18, hosting the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) leading Tribe of William and Mary (13-6, 6-2). The Phoenix were unable to get back to the winning way, falling 80-73 at home.
It was a tight contest in the first half. Elon never had the lead, but kept The Tribe within reach with its biggest deficit being just seven. The Phoenix trailed 36-34 going into the halftime break.
The scoring was well spread out in the first twenty minutes, seeing seven Phoenix players score. Junior guard Dainan Swoope led the way for Elon with eight points. He was followed by junior forward Tyler Seibring and senior forward Brian Dawkins with seven and six points, respectively.
The Tribe’s senior guard Connor Burchfield fueled the scoring for William and Mary in the first half. He was 6-8 from the field, good enough to get him 14 points. But Elon shut him down in the second half, holding him scoreless.
“We kept making his looks tough and I think that’s why we got those misses in the second half," Dawkins said of the defensive play on Burchfield. "Just sticking with the game plan is how we shut him down.”
Dawkins continued his strong offensive play in the second half, finishing the game with 19 points.
“It can be anyone’s night," he said. "I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to try and help my team win. I was able to have a good night tonight but the great thing about our team is that anyone can have a great night. So tonight it might have been my night but the next night it can be anyone’s night.”
Senior guard Dmitri Thompson was a man on a mission in the second half. After foul trouble limited his minutes in the first half, Thompson came out and scored eight points in a two-minute stretch to spark the Elon offense.
“I just wanted to go out there and put the team in the best position to win," Thompson said. "I wanted to go out there and play defense and provide a spark and it happened tonight by scoring eight points. I want to go out there and compete and give it my all every single play, every single position, I just hate to lose like that.”
However, he was quick to follow that up with his dismay on the result of the game,
“I hate to lose, I hate to lose one as close as this, I hate to lose two in a row.” he said.
Elon tied the game up early in the second, but William and Mary kept Elon at bay, at one point stretching their lead to eight points. Elon wouldn’t go down without a fight however, taking the lead 54-53 after a Brian Dawkins bucket.
“I thought we did a good job fighting to get that eight-point lead and I think we just relaxed a little bit once we saw we had that eight-point lead," Dawkins said. "They capitalized – credit to them they capitalized they kept playing hard.”
The Phoenix would go cold down the stretch, to the disappointment of the Alumni Gym crowd, scoring just four more points the rest of the way in. The Tribe would ride the momentum of a 10-0 to take the lead and eventually the game.
These last two games are Elon’s first back-to-back losses this season. But Dawkins has a positive attitude moving forward,
“It’s never as good as it is when you’re winning and it’s never as bad as it is when you’re losing," he said.
Head coach Matt Matheny gave the temperature of the locker-room after the loss,
“I think our guys are a little frustrated, understandably,” Matheny said. “We had a tough experience on Thursday and I thought our guys prepared pretty well. So I think they’re frustrated with the mistakes that we made, kind of like ‘we know better’ mistakes and I think that can lead to frustration.”
Although the team gets another crack at William and Mary soon, the Phoenix are focused on the task ahead.
“We know we get to play everyone in this league twice and I think the biggest thing for us is just to get better and learn from this game and get ready for the next one,” Dawkins said. “What’s going to help us is to focused on a good team in Drexel. Anybody in this league can beat anybody and now we just need to finish games. It doesn’t feel good… but it’s something we can learn from.”
Elon is back in action on Thursday, Jan. 25 as they travel up to Drexel University.