The Elon University Men's Basketball team lived up to their preseason hype and opened the regular season with a bang, running away with a 114-64 victory over Washington & Lee in Alumni Gym on Friday, Nov. 8.
The Generals were outmatched on all levels by the Phoenix, who ended the game ahead in every statistical category. Elon used their size, strength and speed to dominate Washington & Lee on both ends of the floor and showed why the team is considered by many to have bracket-busting potential in this year's NCAA tournament.
The Phoenix came out on fire, led by sophomore guard Tanner Sampson, who scored the game's first eight points and racked up 14 in the first six minutes, and never looked back as they did not allow the Generals to pull in front the whole contest. Elon used 15-0 and 28-8 advantages on points-off of turnovers and points in the paint respectively to head into halftime up 57-32.
The second half was much of the same with Elon dominating both in the paint and beyond the arc. Senior Guard Sebastian Koch scored 10 points in the half, to finish with a game high 22 points. Senior forwards Ryley Beaumont and Lucas Troutman both finished with 18 points. Andrew Franz and Drew Kimberly led Washington and Lee with 12 points apiece.
After the game, Elon Head Basketball Coach Matt Matheny mentioned the team's ball movement as one of the major reasons for the huge win.
"We had guys that created open shots for other guys and we knocked them down," he said. "We had five guys score double figures and if we can regularly spread the ball and have four or five different guys in double figures, it makes us a lot more dangerous."
Matheny said that while the team has made strides defensively, there is still much room for improvement.
"We want to be better defensively than we are right now," Matheny said. "We need to be more alert and we need to eliminate some of the mistakes we're making. We made mistakes where they got very open shots. We want every shot that they take to be contested."
This weekend, Elon will be traveling to New York for a Sunday afternoon game against Marist.
The Phoenix used an incredible shooting night from the field (71.9% FG, 57.1% 3PT) and from the line (87% FT) to come within ten points of the school record for points in a game.
This game marked the fifth consecutive sellout of Alumni Gym for a Men's Basketball game dating back to last season.
Freshman Christian Hairston's penchant for throwing down highlight-reel dunks has made him a fan favorite only two games (including an exhibition) into his college career.
After the game, Coach Matheny said that injured starter Jack Isenbarger started practice on Wednesday, Nov. 6, and is getting very close to a return to the court.