The Elon University men’s basketball team couldn’t find much success shooting or rebounding in their 79-64 loss to Stony Brook at the Schar Center on Feb. 8.
Elon couldn’t get it going from the jump. Sophomore Max Mackinnon’s turnover on the first possession of the game was a foreboding sign, it would seem.
The Phoenix struggled from the field in the first half, going an abysmal 29% from the field. Early in the first half, Elon went on a five and a half minute scoring drought where they went 0-8 from the field — along with an air ball to add salt to the wound. During this, Stony Brook went 13-3 from the field, aided by the strong shooting of graduate student Tyler Stephenson-Moore. Stephenson-Moore scored 12 points in the first half.
Despite the sting of the loss, head coach Billy Taylor said he is proud of what Ervin accomplished.
“He's a tough kid, never complains and shows up every day and works,” Taylor said. “I just couldn't be more proud of him because that's a huge accomplishment to make 200 threes. But we'll celebrate that at the appropriate time because he's been a special player for this program.”
This historic 3-pointer gave the Phoenix some momentum, and Elon began to crawl out of a once 13-point deficit. Elon started gaining points through a clever tactic: drawing fouls. In the final minutes of the first half, Stony Brook went on a 1-7 drought. Elon managed to get the deficit down to eight points going into halftime.
Coming out of the tunnel after the halftime break, Elon looked like they had a fire lit inside them. Mackinnon started the half off hot, shooting a 3-pointer. This was immediately followed up by a ferocious dunk by Junior Sam Sherry that shook the rim.
But then the unexpected happened. The shot clock stopped working. Play was halted for several minutes. After many minutes of trying to get it to work, the shot clock was eventually taken down from the hoop and placed on the sideline. After that stoppage of play, Elon’s momentum was entirely lost. Graduate students Aaron Clark and Stephenson-Moore led the finishing charge for the Seawolves, finishing with 22 and 27 points, respectively.
Taylor said he was disappointed in how the team played in the second half considering the small deficit going into halftime.
“We were only down eight, but we just could not string together consecutive stops the way we needed to or finish possessions off of rebounds so that we could get out in transition,” Taylor said.
It was clear from the start that Stony Brook had the size advantage. They had two 7-foot-tall players, Elon had none. They had two players at 6 feet, 10 inches, Elon had one. This advantage proved to be too much for the Phoenix to handle, as Stony Brook ended up with 11 more rebounds than Elon.
Sherry took the blame for the rebounding troubles.
“I think we should have rebounded better,” Sherry said. “I wasn't in the correct positions for rebounds and that's my fault.”
Taylor said he believes that the game came down to the rebounding difference, and said that it’s something they need to work on.
“Whether it's Towson, Delaware, Stony Brook — it doesn't matter who we play — you got to rebound in this league,” Taylor said.
Other problems for Elon were apparent, however. The Phoenix couldn’t shoot from the free throw line — shooting under 60% from the line. Another problem was the sheer amount of threes taken by the Seawolves. They managed to get 31 three pointers, a clear sign of the open looks Elon gave them.
Taylor attributes the open looks to Stony Brook’s surplus of experience on the roster.
“Six of their top nine guys are grad students. They’re a veteran, experienced team so they didn't panic,” Taylor said.
Mackinnon’s struggles also contributed to the loss. The team’s leading scorer over the course of the season only scored five points and was only awarded 20 minutes of playing time as a result.
Harrell started his third straight game after not starting a single one previously, and had five rebounds and two steals against the Seawolves. Taylor said he thinks Harrell is doing a great job.
“He's got tremendous activity defensively, and he's just someone that gives us a nice balance in terms of a guy that knows how to move and knows how to play,” Taylor said. “A really smart basketball player.”
Simpkins also had a tremendous night with a 15-point, 10 assist performance.
“I thought TK was really great to get into the paint, kind of building off of what he was able to do against A&T,” Taylor said.
With the loss to Stony Brook, Elon falls to 10-14 in the season as they head into a tough game against a 14-10 Towson squad. The Phoenix will play at 9 p.m. at SECU Arena on Feb. 12.