PISCATAWAY, N.J.--After soaring to big wins in its first two games of the season, the Elon University Men's Basketball Team dropped its second straight game, falling to Drexel 71-64 in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-off on Monday, Nov. 18.
The loss, which drops the Phoenix to .500 on the year, sends the team to the consolation bracket of the NIT Season Tip-off and eliminates it from having any opportunity to take home the championship in the prestigious pre-season tournament.
After going into halftime with a 10-point advantage, the Dragons started the second period on a strong note and pushed their lead to 16 with 13:28 to go into the game. Elon then proceeded to catch fire and went on a 17-3 over the next eight minutes to pull within two of Drexel. That was as close as the Phoenix got, as the Dragons went on a 10-2 and managed to hold on the rest of the way.
"We played okay. We did some good things. We defended, we played hard and we competed, but they got the better of us in the first 20 minutes," Elon head coach Matt Matheny said. "We just didn't make enough plays when we needed to down the stretch to get over the hump."
A big problem for the Phoenix was three-point shooting, as the team converted just 2 of 16 shots from beyond the arc.
As with the Elon's loss on Friday at UNC Charlotte, the team was badly out-rebounded by their opposition, with Drexel grabbing 39 boards including 11 offensive rebounds while the Phoenix had only 24 total rebounds and one offensive board.
"We have got to do a better job rebounding down low," Coach Matheny said. "The numbers are really poor in terms of offensive rebounding, so we're going to need to change the way we teach to be more productive in that area."
Senior forward Lucas Troutman finished the night with a game-high 23 points for the Phoenix and finished the game a perfect 7 of 7 from the free throw line.
Senior forward Ryley Beaumont also finished in double figures for Elon with 10.
Guard Chris Fouch led Drexel on the night with 22 points while fellow backcourt mates Damion Lee and Tavon Allen added 16 and 15 respectively for the Dragons.
All-Conference guard Jack Isenbarger made his season debut for the Phoenix after missing the beginning of the season with a foot injury. The senior from Zionsville, Ind. played 17 minutes for Elon finishing with 0 of 4 shooting and an assist.
Up next for Elon is Canisius on Tuesday Nov. 19. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. from the Rutgers Athletic Center.