ELON, N.C. - A late rally from the Elon University men's basketball team fell just short on Saturday, Jan. 5, inside Alumni Gym, as the Phoenix dropped a 74-64 decision to Princeton in its final non-conference game of the regular season.
Elon (8-6) trailed Princeton (6-7) by as many as 16 points midway through the second period, but battled back to make it a six-point contest late. Jack Isenbarger hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:37 remaining to make it a 65-59 game.
But Tigers kept the Phoenix at arm's length from that point forward, going up by as many as 12 with less than 30 seconds to play to escape Alumni Gym with the victory.
"Give Princeton credit for playing with an edge today and being the more aggressive team for 40 minutes," said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. "But I love the way we hung in there and fought the entire game. You can't dig that big of a hole against a good team like that and expect to be successful. I think [Princeton] beat a good team today and I like where we're headed moving forward into conference play."
Princeton's Ian Hummer scored a game-high 28 points in the setback, while Will Barrett finished the day with 17 for the Tigers.
Isenbarger ended the day with 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field, while Lucas Troutman scored in double figures for the 13th consecutive game with 14 points. Ryley Beaumont just missed his second straight double-double, finishing with nine points and eight boards.
The Phoenix shot 47 percent from the field, but the battle on the boards proved to be the difference maker. Princeton ended the day with a 36-25 edge on the glass, including 15 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second-chance points.
The Tigers took a 10-point advantage with 11:43 remaining in the first half after a Barrett three-pointer put the Phoenix behind, 23-13. As a whole, Princeton knocked down 8-of-14 from beyond the arc, including Barrett's game-high five.
Princeton went ahead by as many as 16 points in the opening frame, but Elon limited the deficit to nine, 41-32, at intermission.
A barrage of three pointers helped the Tigers jump out to a lead at the half, as Princeton went 6-of-8 from three-point land in the first 20 minutes. Elon hit 4-of-9 shots from beyond the arc in the opening frame, shooting at a 50-percent clip from the field as a whole on 13-of-26 attempts.
The Tigers claimed a 16-point lead with less than nine minutes remaining after a Hummer left-handed slam made it a 57-41 game.
Tanner Samson pulled Elon within nine points with 7:06 remaining after connecting from long-distance to make it a 57-48 game.
Isenbarger's three with 1:37 to play limited the deficit to six, but that was as close as the Phoenix would come. Princeton managed to keep the maroon and gold at arm's length down the stretch to secure the win, taking a 12-point lead with 16 seconds remaining.
Elon returns to Southern Conference play next weekend with back-to-back road games at Appalachian State (Jan. 12) and Western Carolina (Jan. 14).
WFMY News 2 Sports/Elon