Defense an Issue as Elon Knocks Off BU, 77-69

EJ

By: Matt Doherty

BOSTON — With five minutes and change to go in regulation and the game tied at 63, Elon senior forward Brian Dawkins, who had been quiet for the majority of the contest, nailed a step-back 3-pointer from the left corner with a hand in his face.

On the next Phoenix possession, fellow upperclassmen Dainan Swoope knocked down a straightaway 3-pointer after a beautiful sequence of ball movement.

After shooting a dismal 18 percent (17-of-90) from behind the arc in their previous three games, Elon (7-4) hit 15 3-pointers and used a 10-0 run in the final five minutes to beat Boston University, 77-69, on Sunday afternoon at Case Gym.

Steven Santa Ana scored 19 points, Tyler Seibring chipped in 15 points and 8 rebounds and the Phoenix overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to hand the Terriers (4-6) their second consecutive defeat.

“This is kind of a microcosm of what we go through,” BU Head Coach Joe Jones said. “For whatever reason we have an inability to play hard for longer stretches. We go through droughts where we’re not competing, not going after the ball hard enough, and missing assignments.”

The Terriers came out of the gate with vengeance featuring a new starting lineup with senior Will Goff and junior point guard Kamal Chambers in the backcourt. BU nailed seven of their first eight 3-point attempts. Cedric Hankerson scored the first 8 points of the game. Goff hit two triples, and, in his first career start, Chambers knocked down a trey-ball.

BU led 31-19 before their defensive lapses showed up.

“Our ability to focus and be ready to go has been a problem for us,” Jones said. “We had a hard time sustaining the defense. We played well out of the gate. It hasn’t been that. We generally play well to start the game. We just can’t sustain it.”

The Terriers were unable to close out on shooters in their 2-3 zone. Santa Ana knocked down four straight 3-pointers in the final five minutes of the half, including a 25-footer with five seconds left to give Elon a 42-40 halftime lead.

Then, the Phoenix scored the first four points of the second frame to open up their largest lead of the game at six.

“We’re having a really hard time in the second half of the game and how we start the half, ” Jones said. “We’ve been bad. We struggled to start to the half. First four minutes of the half we were terrible again. It’s been a problem all year.”

The Terriers scored the next five points to cut the deficit to one, and the two teams were within one possession of each other for the majority of the next eleven minutes.

Hankerson, who scored a game-high 22 points, hit a 3-pointer to make it 55-53, and then threw down a two-handed slam in transition to tie the game at 55 with 9:28 to go. After a Swoope 3-pointer at the other end, Hankerson nailed another to answer the run.

And with 5:34 to go, Tyler Scanlon (7 points, 5 assists) made a base-line jumper to tie the game at 63. But then Elon scored the next ten points, highlighted by the two 3-pointers from Dawkins and Swoope to seal the win.

“They have two forwards who can shoot and put the ball on the floor,” Jones said. “And then they have a great point guard. They’re a veteran team and they’re well coached. I thought they were experienced, skilled and talented.”

“I told our team, we’re able to play at a pretty high level. We just haven’t been able to sustain it for some reason,” Jones added.

Up Next: The Terriers will finish up their non-conference slate with a matchup against Harvard University on Thursday night. Tip-off from Lavaites Pavilion is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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