What A Difference 24 Hours Make, As Cougars Come Up Flat
By: Jeff Walker, Sports Writer
It was a tale of two games. Just 24 hours after easily downing Elon 71-53 on Saturday afternoon, the Cougars come up empty offensively, falling to the Phoenix 66-55 on Sunday afternoon at TD Arena. Hunter McIntosh lead Elon with a game high 20 points including four from long range, as the Phoenix picked up their first win in the CAA. Elon improve to 4-8 overall and 1-7 in league play.
CofC Head Coach Earl Grant broke it down in layman’s terms. “A lot changed in 24 hours. I really have to give Elon credit. Coach Schrage, how hard it is to lose the way they did yesterday (Saturday) and then show so much character today. Coming back out and playing inspired basketball. We were amazing yesterday with our energy level and we did some great things as a collection. Today, we weren’t quite as good.”
After coming up short in seven CAA games, Coach Grant admitted Elon was ready for a victory. “If you don’t stay humble, you will get humbled. Sometimes when you get humbled enough, there is something that rises up inside of you to put you in a position where you are desperate. They (Elon) were desperate (to win) and we got humbled. Plain and simple. We will watch film and see where we could have done things better.”
It was all Elon from the start. When Darius Burford drained from beyond the arc with 16:37 remaining in the first half, the visitors took a ten point (13-3) advantage. Although the Cougars were able to keep within single digits for most of the first half, they went into the locker room down 30-26 at the break.
A couple of back to back jump shots by Brenden Tucker and Willis at the onset of the second half, tied the contest for the final time, as Elon quickly went on an 11-0 run, up 43-32 with just over 14 minutes left to play. The Cougars did manage to cut the margin to four on a few occasions, but found themselves trailing by double digits on several occasions.
Free throws from McIntosh and Ikenns Ndugba for Elon in the closing minutes kept CofC from any late game rally. Simon Wright would finish with 15 points for the Phoenix, making 3 of 4 from downtown. Ndugba added 12 points for Elon, going 4 of 4 from the charity stripe when his team needed them most.
While the final stats were remarkably close, with Elon winning the battle on the boards (33-25), it just wasn’t CofC’s day, as they trailed throughout the contest. Zep Jasper who was the top scorer on Saturday, lead the Cougars with 18 points, with Payton Willis adding 11 in the loss. Charleston fall one game below .500 at 8-9 overall, and 6-4 in the CAA.
Jasper didn’t expect to roll over Elon twice. “The same energy from yesterday (Saturday) wasn’t there today. We looked a little sluggish. We just didn’t look right today. I don’t think there is a reason. It was more of a humble thing, with us beating them by 20+ points yesterday. We all knew that they would come out and play hard from the jump. We didn’t come out ready to play today.”
CofC will play its next three games in conference play on the road beginning with a weekend series at Hofstra (12-9, 8-6 CAA) on Saturday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 21 in Hempstead, N.Y. Both games will tip-off at 1 p.m. (ET).
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