By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Consistency became an unfortunate trait in a pair of games last week for Elon’s men’s basketball team.
The Phoenix lost twice in similar fashions in Coastal Athletic Association games on their home court at Schar Center.
The most-recent outing resulted in Saturday night’s 84-72 defeat vs. Northeastern.
“I was hoping we’d have a better sense of urgency,” Elon coach Billy Taylor said.
Just like two nights earlier against UNC Wilmington, a huge early deficit was devastating.
“Northeastern was more desperate and hungrier in that first half,” Taylor said.
With eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes, the Phoenix trailed 27-10.
“That first half, it did hurt us a lot,” Phoenix guard Max Mackinnon said of the sloppy ball handling.
Then it became worse, with Elon falling into 34-14 and 40-19 holes. The Phoenix (8-11 overall, 1-5 CAA) made a few mini-rallies that flamed out in the second half before a 68-48 deficit was trimmed to 70-61 before Elon ended up with its fourth straight loss.
But the Huskies (8-11, 3-3) received 22 points from Rashad King and 20 points from Harold Woods. The duo combined to shoot 16-for-24 from the field.
Northeastern’s Bill Coen became the winningest coach in CAA history in terms of league regular-season and tournament wins with 184, passing former George Mason coach Jim Larranaga, who’s now at Miami.
Mackinnon’s 20 points and LA Pratt’s 16 points topped Elon’s scoring. The Phoenix had freshman guard Nick Dorn back in action for the two games last week after he missed two games with an ankle injury. He had 11 points Saturday.
• Last Thursday night, Elon’s big comeback wasn’t big enough against UNCW, which won 82-70.
From down 23 to within three, Elon made it interesting.
“I think that second half of basketball is who we are,” Pratt said.
But UNCW’s Trazarien White poured in 31 points and that was too much for the Phoenix.
TK Simpkins and Pratt each scored 16 points and Rob Higgins posted 13 points for Elon, which shot 14-for-23 on second-half free throws.
UNCW bounced out to a 21-9 lead. Seven of the Seahawks’ first nine baskets were 3-pointers as the margin grew, eventually reaching 40-17. UNCW’s 46-27 halftime lead came with 65.4 percent shooting from the field.
“I think we got really deflated from giving up baskets,” Taylor said.
Elon scored the first 10 points of the second half and then made a gradual climb. A Zac Ervin 3-pointer made it 59-53 and later Simpkins drained two free throws to cut the gap to 65-62 with 7:56 remaining.
“After a bad 20 minutes, to be in that position against that team is a pretty good statement for us,” Taylor said.
White scored the next five points. He attempted all 20 of his free throws in the second half, making only 11. He was 9-for-12 from the field for the game. Teammate KJ Jenkins was 5-for-7 on 3s and ended up with 18 points.
Elon completed a two-game road sweep when Iycez Adams broke a tie with a free throw with one second left in Sunday afternoon’s 55-54 victory against Hofstra at Hempstead, New York.
Adams and Maraja Pass both scored 12 points for the Phoenix, which had a 52-37 lead vanish. Hofstra scored 16 straight points before Adams hit a jumper with 54 seconds left. A foul shot for the Pride tied the game. Adams sank the first of two attempts to give Elon the victory.
On Friday at West Long Branch, New Jersey, Vanessa Taylor’s 17 points led for Elon players in double-figure scoring as the Phoenix overcame a 12-point, second-half deficit to defeat Monmouth 65-60.
Elon (7-12, 3-3) is off until Sunday’s 2:00 p.m. game at North Carolina A&T.