ELON, N.C.--The Elon Men's Basketball lost a one-point game in heartbreaking fashion as Metro State walked out of Alumni Gym 75-74 winners on Monday, Nov. 25.
After being down by as much as 16 during the contest, the Phoenix pulled within one with 13.7 seconds to go. Metro State's Mitch McCarron headed to the free throw line to shoot a one-and-one with the chance to put the Roadrunners ahead by three, but his first shot hit iron and was rebounded by Elon senior Sebastian Koch giving the Phoenix the chance to take its first lead since it was 3-2, and steal the game in the final seconds.
The comeback was not to be, however, as Elon could not put the ball in the hoop despite having three solid looks, and the Phoenix fell to NCAA Division II's number one ranked team.
The loss, which marked the fourth straight for the Phoenix, dropped Elon, which was picked by many experts to win the Southern Conference to, 2-4 on the season. It also leaves the team 0-3 in the National Invitational Tournament Season Tip-Off with one game remaining in the competition. The win for the Metro State made history because with it, the Roadrunners became the first Division II squad to pick up two wins in the prestigious preseason tournament.
The first half of the game was not a close one, with the Roadrunners coming out in a press defense and with a pace on offense that stifled Elon on both ends of the floor.
Metro State took advantage of sloppy ball handling by the Phoenix combined with its speed in transition to head into the break up 40-29 after leading by as many as 16 in the half.
"They really attacked us to start the game," Elon Head Coach Matt Matheny said. "They were good with their pressure, they took us out of rhythm, and they hurt us in transition."
After the first 10 minutes of the second half went by with the score hovering consistently in the area of a 10-point Metro State lead, Elon started to make a run keyed by long-range shooting by the team's guards.
Senior guard Jack Isenbarger, who was playing his first home game of the year after missing time with a foot injury, nailed three three-pointers in a two minute span to pull the Phoenix within six, and with 1:24 left sophomore Tanner Samson drained a triple to make it a one-point game.
Following a flagrant foul on Metro State's Raul Delgado, Lucas Troutman made both free throws and Elon the ball back with 32.5 seconds left down 75-74. The Phoenix squandered the opportunity and came up empty, turning the ball over with 14 seconds left and failing to convert its final three field goal attempts.
"We played well in the second half, but in the first, we came out kind of sluggish and they jumped on us early," Isenbarger said. "They came out with energy to start the game and we just didn't match it. We have to have the energy in both the first half and the second half."
Junior Austin Hamilton and Koch paced the Phoenix with 15 points apiece and McCarron scored a game-high 29 for the Roadrunners.
Elon takes on Georgia Southern Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 7:30 to finish the NIT Season Tip-Off. The game is the second of a doubleheader that will see Metro State take on Canisius at 5. All games are in Alumni Gym.