The Elon University men’s basketball team, which had won five of its last six games, came into Thursday’s game against College of Charleston looking for something to help keep the momentum going against the top team in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Cougars came out hot and didn’t let up from three, making 18 of 42 attempts to win 88-66.
Head coach Billy Taylor said he tips his hat to Charleston, which ranked No. 18 in the Associated Press rankings Jan. 16. Taylor said the Phoenix played well but not well enough against the strong opponent.
“There’s a reason why they’re in first place in the conference,” Taylor said. “Super physical, great rebounding team and have shooters all over the court. Obviously we played well in a lot of really large spurts, but we gave them too many open threes and we did not rebound.”
After scoring only five points in the first half, graduate student guard Torrence Watson lit up the second half, scoring 20 points, tallying his season-high of 25 He also recorded his season-high 36 minutes played, 10 field goals made and two blocks.
Watson said he was looking for his team to get a good possession after back-to-back turnovers and decided to take things into his own hands on the offensive end.
“Credit to my teammates for giving me the ball in open spots, and then the shot went in during the second half,” Watson said. “Didn’t fall in the first half but trusted it and then my teammates trusted me.”
Charleston, which attempted 87 threes in its two games against Elon this season, exposed the Phoenix’s zone defense. Watson said he was impressed with Charleston’s ability to shoot and get rebounds.
“It’s tough when they have a lot of shooters and then they also crash four to the glass, and they did a great job for that and we didn’t,” Watson said.
Elon gave up 18 offensive rebounds to Charleston during the game, allowing 22 second-chance points. Elon sophomore forward Sam Sherry said the game on the boards was a battle the Phoenix failed to win.
“I just think it was a war just trying to get the board’s, and we didn’t do a great job of it,” Sherry said.
The game seemed to get chippy — after several aggressive interactions between Charleston graduate student guard Dalton Bolon and Elon players throughout the game, the two teams appeared to get into an argument after the match. Both Sherry and Taylor had nothing to say about the exchange of words between the two teams.
“I’m not worried about what happened at the end of the game,” Sherry said.
Taylor echoed Sherry’s words and seemed unfazed about the encounter.
“There’s nothing there,” Taylor said.
Taylor said it was an important game, as Elon only has three remaining games in the regular season. Elon will look to learn from the loss and take the lesson on the road for its next game at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 against Monmouth University.