Menís Basketball Falls To Elon, 81-68
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG men’s basketball rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit and pulled within four points in the second half, but the Spartans suffered an 81-68 loss to Southern Conference and Triad rival Elon Wednesday night at the Greensboro Coliseum. The loss drops the Spartans to 12-16 overall and 5-8 in league play while Elon improves to 16-11 overall and 9-3 in SoCon action. The game will be the final regular season SoCon contest between the two teams, as the Phoenix will exit the conference at the end of the year.
“Tonight was a tale of two halves,” head coach Wes Miller said. “We really played well in the second half, holding them to no offensive rebounds, got eight loose balls and 13 offensive rebounds. We were more aggressive and played with better energy in the second half. In the first half, I thought we were bad the entire half. We came out with bad energy and were not focused in the first 20 minutes. We have to find a way to play with the fight we show when our backs are against the wall every minute we are on the court. If we can do that, we will be a pretty good team and a scary team to play.”
Redshirt freshman center RJ White (Frisco, Texas/Frisco) highlighted the night for the Spartans, scoring a career-high 21 points in 24 minutes off the bench. White connected on 7-of-14 from the field and 7-of-10 from the free throw line in the breakout performance. He also finished just shy of his first career double-double, grabbing nine rebounds to help the Spartans out-rebound Elon 40-37, including 18 on the offensive glass.
The Spartans connected on 35.2 percent (25-of-71) from the field in the loss and had one of their worst three-point shooting nights of the season, hitting just 2-of-17 (11.8%) from long range. Additionally, UNCG connected on just 61.5 percent (16-of-26) from the charity stripe in the loss. Conversely, Elon was strong from deep hitting 8-of-17 (47.1%), including 6-of-10 in the field half. The Phoenix finished the night hitting 25-of-52 (48.1%) from the field and 23-of-26 (88.5%) from the free throw line.
The teams came out of the gate quickly, trading baskets as Elon took an early 19-16 lead in the fast paced opening eight minutes. The Phoenix had the game’s first run, posting a 9-2 spurt to take a 28-18 lead, including six straight points to force a UNCG timeout. Sebastian Koch started the run with a three-pointer while Jack Isenbarger hit back-to-back baskets to extend the lead to double digits.
The Spartans answered back with a 7-0 run to narrow the gap to 28-25. White scored on an offensive put-back in the run while sophomore Jordan Potts (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) nailed a three-pointer to pull UNCG within three points.
Elon had another run in itself before the halftime break, scoring 10 straight on its way to a 10-2 close of the half taking a 42-31 lead into the locker room. Lucas Troutman converted an old-fashioned three-point play during the stretch while Jack Isenbarger nailed another outside shot.
The Spartans connected on 43.8 percent (14-of-32) from the field, but hit just 1-of-8 (12.5%) from the long distance in the opening 20 minutes. White led UNCG with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field while Potts added seven points in his first start of the season. Elon connected on 51.7 percent (15-of-29) from the field and 60 percent (6-of-10) from distance in the half. Ryley Beaumont led the way with 11 points while Isenbarger added 10 and Troutman scored nine points.
UNCG came out of the halftime break and took the fight to the Phoenix, dominating the hustle plays in the second half as it opened on an 11-4 run to trim the deficit to 46-41. Freshman guard Tevon Saddler (Aberdeen, Md./St. Frances Academy) scored four points, including the run-capping old-fashioned three-point play as he scored on an offensive rebound put-back. Sophomore forward Kayel Locke (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) also added four points during the stretch as he battled foul trouble throughout the game.
Elon answered back with nine straight points to extend the lead back to double figures at 55-43. Koch led the way with the last five points of the spurt, including a three-pointer that forced UNCG into a timeout. The Spartans committed three turnovers and missed three shots on their six possessions during the 2:53 stretch.
The Spartans kept battling as junior forward Kyle Cain (Chicago, Ill./Arizona State) scored seven straight points to pull within nine at 59-50, but the Phoenix were able to keep UNCG at an arms’ length down the stretch. Elon hit 17-of-18 from the free throw line in the final 20 minutes while the Spartans only hit 14-of-24 (58.3%).
Cain finished the night as the only other Spartan to reach double figures with 16 points and eight rebounds. He connected on 7-of-18 from the field and was 2-of-3 from the free throw line. Saddler added eight points and four rebounds while Potts chipped in seven points, all in the first half before fouling out.
Elon had all five starters score in double figures in the victory as they accounted for 69 of the 81 points. Isenbarger led the way with 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line. Koch added 15 points and six rebounds while Beaumont and Troutman each finished with 13 points. Kevin Blake rounded out the starters with 11 points and six rebounds.
The Spartans will close out the home portion of the 2013-14 season Sunday afternoon as they host Chattanooga. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum. UNCG will recognize its seniors Tyler McNeely (Princeton, N.J./Blair Academy) and Drew Parker (Houston, Texas/La Porte) in a pregame ceremony for senior day.
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