Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Elon men attempt to build momentum

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Elon’s men’s basketball team will try to keep new-found momentum going.

The Phoenix used clutch plays to secure Saturday’s 69-65 victory at North Carolina A&T.
The next task is to halt a four-game homecourt losing streak. Last week, an enthusiastic crowd gave Elon a boost, but it wasn’t enough against Campbell.

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“It’s just about staying together,” Elon center Sam Sherry said. “We have to trust each other.”
That tended to work in the N.C. A&T game, with Zac Ervin posting 12 points and Max Mackinnon and Sherry each scoring 10. Ervin, a fifth-year player, was 4-for-4 on 3s, giving him 199 for his career.

Ervin drained three 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the first half as the Phoenix built a 42-26 lead. The margin grew to 50-31 before the Aggies rallied.

The Phoenix clung to a 59-58 edge with less than four minutes to play before an Isaac Harrell’s jumper and Mackinnon’s 3-pointer. A jumper from Rob Higgins as the shot clock wound down and LA Pratt’s free throw with four seconds left helped seal the outcome.

Jalal McKie’s 23 points and Camian Shell’s 22 points accounted for most of the Aggies’ offense.

Next, Elon (3-7 overall, 10-13 CAA) meets visiting Stony Brook (5-5, 12-11) on Thursday night at Schar Center before going to Towson on Saturday night.

• Last Thursday night, Elon wiped out a 12-point, second-half deficit but couldn’t complete a comeback in a 69-67 loss to visiting Campbell.

After Mackinnon missed a would-be, go-ahead free throw attempt, Campbell’s Anthony Dell’Orso scored the winning basket on a drive with 1.5 seconds left.

That was a downer for a home crowd that Elon coach Billy Taylor referred to as creating the best homecourt advantage in his two seasons.

Elon posted 10 straight points while Camels went more than 4½ minutes without scoring before their last shot.

“Willing their way back into the game,” Taylor said of his players.

Campbell led 67-59 when double technical fouls were assessed to Sherry and Dell’Orso with 4:15 left – and the intensity ramped up.

“The crowd was a big part of it,” Sherry said. “It was electric in there.”

But at 67-61, Elon committed consecutive turnovers. Still, Campbell’s offensive goaltending, Sherry’s three-point play and the Camels’ shot-clock violation gave the Phoenix a chance.
Elon’s TK Simpkins hit two free throws with 51 seconds remaining to cut the gap to 67-66. Another defensive stop for the Phoenix allowed it to set up an offensive possession.

Mackinnon made the first free-throw attempt, but not the second at the 8.4-second mark.
Dell’Orso grabbed the rebound and didn’t give up the ball, bursting down the right side of the lane for the winning basket. The Phoenix never got off another shot.

“He got loose and was able to make a big-time play,” Taylor said.

Dell’Orso finished with 17 points. Sherry’s 15 points, Mackinnon’s 13 points, Simpkins’ 12 points and Nick Dorn’s 11 points paced Elon.


Women’s basketball
Elon lost its past two games at home, including Sunday afternoon’s 53-35 setback to Campbell.

That dropped the Phoenix to 7-15 overall and 3-6 in CAA play despite Iycez Adams’ 13 points.

On Friday during an Education Day game in front of more than 3,000 spectators – mostly children from area schools – Elon couldn’t hang on to a second-half lead in a 51-46 loss to Northeastern. The score was tied with less than six minutes to play.

Earlier, the Phoenix led 16-2. Adams had 13 points and Ajia James added 12 points for Elon, which plays Friday night at Hampton and then at 1:00 p.m. Sunday vs. UNC Wilmington at Schar Center.

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