The Elon University’s men’s basketball team took the Colonial Athletic Association preseason favorite Towson University Tigers to the final buzzer on Saturday, but fell short 66-62 in a nail-biting finish.
The Phoenix found itself down 14 at the halftime break, but fought until the very end. Freshman guard Max Mackinnon said no one in the locker room at the half was ready to call the game over.
“We all trust each other, we all trust the system, we all believe,” Mackinnon said. “We are not going to give up.”
After the game, head coach Billy Taylor said he was pleased with the team’s ability to come out of the halftime locker room level headed.
“I was proud of our guys for how they responded in the second half,” Taylor said. “Our guys stayed in the fight.”
With under two seconds remaining, graduate student guard Sean Halloran went coast-to-coast to get the Phoenix back within a basket. However, it turned out to be too little, too late. Taylor said the Phoenix needs to have better possessions down the stretch in tight games.
“A few times, we go for too many home runs. If we could just stay looking for more singles, we would be in better shape,” Taylor said.
In total, the Phoenix pulled up 21 times from beyond the three-point arc, but only connected on five of those attempts. Taylor said the team had to capitalize on the chances it got.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to knock down some of those shots,” Taylor said. “They made 11 threes, we made five. Some of theirs were contested but they made them. Some of ours were open that we missed.
The Phoenix came out of halftime with a surge of energy, scoring 11 points off turnovers as well as snatching 15 offensive rebounds. Taylor said the Phoenix executing on its second chance possessions was vital.
“We got a couple possessions back just by crashing the boards and getting a hand in there,” Taylor said.
Although this was Elon’s 10th straight loss, Taylor said he has been pleased with the fight Elon has put up in recent games.
“There’s been a number of them where we are right there,” Taylor said. “We are seeing growth from our team and unfortunately it’s not showing in terms of wins and losses right now. But sometimes the scoreboard can be a liar.”
With 20 games of the regular season in the books, time is short for the seniors on the team. Taylor said he is hoping the team can turn it around for them.
“There is even more urgency for Sean [Halloran], John Bowen and Jerald [Gillens-Butler],” Taylor said. “Hopefully, we can get to playing our best basketball into February and into March and let’s just see what happens.”
The Phoenix continues its three-game homestand on Jan. 26 with a game against Hofstra University.