The Elon University’s men’s basketball team hosted the Hofstra University Pride in its second straight home game on Thursday night but the game was about more than just winning or losing.
The Phoenix coaching staff participated in Suits and Sneakers Week as a part of the Coaches vs. Cancer program to raise awareness about the fight against cancer. Each member of Elon’s coaching staff wore a unique style of sneaker to support different types of cancer. After the game, head coach Billy Taylor spoke about how important the program was to him and the team.
“It’s an important event that we are playing for and honoring,” Taylor said. “We obviously want to honor the medical professionals that do unbelievable work and care.”
In the end, however, the Phoenix could not keep up with the Pride’s explosive perimeter offense and dropped its 11th straight game 82-65 despite holding a halftime advantage. Taylor said the team can use losses like these to move forward.
“We’re winning the [College of] Charleston game at halftime and we’re winning this game at halftime; the two top teams in the league,” Taylor said. “This is a great measuring stick, a great learning tool.”
After falling behind 28-17, the Phoenix closed out the half on a 18-5 run that gave it a 35-33 lead at halftime. Taylor said he was pleased the half closed out in Elon’s favor.
“We just played extremely hard during that stretch,” Taylor said. “Sometimes the final four minutes of the half where the run has been the other way. To have that kind of swing in our favor with the effort level being as high as it was was fantastic.”
With nine minutes left in the second half, graduate student guard Sean Halloran cut the Pride’s lead to seven and secured a new season high with 24 points. Halloran also finished the contest with five rebounds and two assists to combat his stellar performance.
After the game, Halloran said he knew he had to come out firing on all cylinders.
“I came into the game thinking I just had to be aggressive,” Halloran said. “My teammates found me to be honest. They kept telling me that they were going to keep looking for me and that’s just what happens.”
Later in the half, graduate student guard Torrence Watson hit a three to cut the lead to four and give the Phoenix life with just under eight minutes left. Afterward, Watson said how important it is for the team to coast off moments like those.
“It felt great, that’s some of the times we really have to focus in and get stops,” Watson said. “I feel like if everybody on our team comes together collectively and everybody plays as hard as they can, I don’t think there is a team in the conference that can beat us.”
It would be the closest the Phoenix would get to the lead.
Hofstra finished with a staggering 47% shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Led by Aaron Estrada’s career high of 40 points and eight three-pointers made, the Pride coasted to a 17-point victory.
Estrada’s performance marked the second straight year a Hofstra player hung 40 points on the Phoenix at Schar Center, as Omar Silverio did so last season. Halloran said the Phoenix needed to do a better job of shutting down Estrada early.
“I think we gave him some easy ones early,” Halloran said. “He’s the leading scorer in the conference so obviously he is going to get it going. We have to do a better job with that
Taylor also said the Phoenix could not find a way to shut Estrada down after the threes started to hit the bottom of the net.
“Once Estrada got cooking, it was impossible to slow him down,” Taylor said. “We make eight threes, they make 16 threes, that's going to be the difference.”
The Phoenix wraps up its three-game homestand on Saturday Jan. 28 against the Drexel University Dragons.