Written By Elon Sports Information Dept.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - It came down to the wire, but the Elon University men's basketball team clinched the Southern Conference North Division title after escaping with a 63-62 win at Samford on Thursday night, Feb. 21, at the Pete Hanna Center.
Trailing by one with 26 seconds remaining and the clock winding down, Sebastian Koch hit a driving Ryley Beaumont on a backdoor cut toward the basket for a layup, giving Elon a 63-62 lead.
Following a timeout with 8.2 seconds left, Samford's Raijon Kelly's potential game-winning jumper from near the free throw line ricocheted off the rim as time expired, allowing the Phoenix to hold on to the victory.
Elon (19-8, 12-3 SoCon) clinches the North Division title with the win, its first since the 2005-06 season. The team's 19 wins are the most since the 1989-90 season, while Elon's 12 wins in league play are the most since the 1987-88 season.
"We're very happy to come out of here with a victory tonight," said Elon head coach Matt Matheny. "It was a hard-fought victory and our veteran guys really stepped up when we needed it. We ran our offense and got a really good back cut play for a huge bucket and came up with a big stop against a very talented player in [Raijon] Kelly."
Beaumont, who was named the SoCon Player of the Week on Tuesday, ended the night with 14 points and a career-high 14 boards for his fourth double-double this season.
Jack Isenbarger scored a team-high 15 points in the win, while Tanner Samson finished the evening with 11 points.
Elon shot 52 percent from the field as a team, while hitting 9-of-21 (43 percent) from beyond the arc. The Bulldogs shot 49 percent from the field and hit 9-of-15 (60 percent) from three.
Beaumont put the Phoenix ahead by 10 points early in the first half after connecting on a jumper in the paint to give his squad a 13-3 advantage, forcing Samford to call a timeout with 13:29 to play.
Elon led by as many as 14 points in the first session, carrying a 38-30 edge into the locker room at intermission. The Phoenix shot 67 percent from the field in the opening frame, knocking down 5-of-10 from three-point land.
Samford pulled within three early in the second period and forced a Phoenix timeout with 16:07 to play after a Kelly triple made it a 41-38 game. The Bulldogs took the lead for the first time with 15:03 remaining after a Tim Williams layup put Elon behind, 43-41, and completed a 16-5 run.
But Elon regained the lead with 12:34 to play after a Samson trey from the wing put the maroon and gold ahead, 47-46.
The Phoenix led by as many as six with less than six minutes to play, until Kelly gave the Bulldogs a late lead, 60-59, with 3:21 to play on a jumper near the free throw line.
Beaumont and Kelly traded baskets down the stretch, but it was the junior from Millersville, Md., who scored the eventual game-winner in the waning moments, giving Elon its first ever win at Samford in five tries.
Elon Sports Information Dept.