My second game of the day would take me out of Greensboro and a short drive over to Elon. The Phoenix would be taking on the Charleston Cougars in an early SoCon tilt. The problem for me was getting out of Greensboro. I had just watched North Carolina Central beat North Carolina A&T in a game that went to the last minute. I was sitting fairly high up in the stands, so when the game ended I was pretty much stuck up there while fans tried to squeeze out of the arena. I figured I had an hour before game time in Elon, so there was not much of a rush yet.
Once I made it out of the Corbett Sports Center, there was a matter of getting out of the parking lot. That proved to take a lot longer than I had hoped with the skinny road system and multiple stoplights on the A&T campus. Even with this, I still felt like I had plenty of time to make it to Elon once I made it out of the mini traffic jam.
I got to Elon with no problem except when I went to go park. The lot I had parked in before was already full as were the spaces in the downtown Elon area leaving me with that dreaded feeling of "now what?" I hate arriving late to games and I also hate not being able to find a place to park my car in the dark. I circled the campus and found a sign that said visitors parking. That lot was also full. Frustration was starting to set in since it was minutes before tip-off.
I finally found a lot that had a few spaces left and parked my car. I power walked my way to the Alumni Gym and was hoping I would not miss the tip. I reached the front doors and was scanned in, but I missed the start by 15 seconds. I know it's not that big of a deal, but I still like to be a little bit early so I can get to my seat without blocking anyone's view. I decided to wait until the first media timeout to get to my seat which is something ushers at most hockey games do; which I always thought was a great idea.
I also like to arrive early so I can familiarize myself with the teams that are playing in the game notes or the free game program. I did not need to do this since I had already seen the Phoenix and Cougars play this year. It would be a strong early season SoCon matchup with two of the better teams in the conference. Charleston had just red lined Boston College
and Baylor and Elon did the same to South Carolina and had already gotten a SoCon road win on Wednesday over Georgia Southern.
Elon was able to dictate the pace in the early going by pushing the ball on both ends. A fast-break dunk from Lucas Troutman gave the Phoenix a 17-10 lead. I am becoming a big fan of Troutman as he is becoming my favorite Mid-Majority player to watch this year. He plays hard and is an eraser on defense and his dunks and blocks really change the momentum of a game.
The Cougars are no pushover though and battled back with strong defense and outside shooting. A very deep NBA three from Andrew Lawrence had everyone in the crowd impressed as did Adjehi Baru's swat off a Kevin Blake shot attempt.
With the pace of the game slowed down, it became a neck and neck battle until Troutman and point guard Austin Hamilton started forcing bad shots. The Cougars would take advantage and build up a five-point lead going into the half despite numerous turnovers.
Charleston picked up where they left off starting the second half and extended its lead. Elon was still taking bad shots and getting careless with the ball. A Lawrence steal and score had it 38-29 in favor of the Cougars, but Jack Isenbarger quickly responded with a three. Elon coach Matt Matheny waved his arms to the crowd trying to create some noise to help out the Phoenix.
The crowd would in turn respond by raising the decibel level, but it would be short lived. College of Charleston is still without the services of its best post player in Trent Weideman, but Willis Hall has stepped up in his place. Undersized at 6'6", Hall is still crafty around the basket and a natural scorer as he was able to break Stephen Curry's high school points record at Charlotte Christian. His jumpers and inside dirty work, along with long-distance shooting from Lawrence had the Cougars up nine with six minutes to play.
Elon made its last push as Isenbarger hit another three as Matheny was constantly trying to get the Elon crowd on its feet and cheering. I have seen bench players do this, but this was new to see the head coach do a heavy dose of cheerleading during a game. It seemed to be working for the Phoenix though as Troutman hit two buckets and Tanner Samson cleaned up a Hamilton miss to tie it at 52.
The Cougars would strike back though after a few empty possessions with a Baru dunk after he went soaring through the lane. Baru, a highly touted recruit, may be developing slowly, but he is getting better every time I see him.
The Cougars were able to maintain that two-point lead into the waning seconds. Elon had a chance to tie or win the game, but some indecision led to a long three from Hamilton that was off its mark.
Charleston was able to get the road win and have an early advantage in the SoCon. They have shown to be a strong program and now look forward to hosting national power Louisville on Tuesday. Elon is still getting used to its early success. They have a strong student contingent that was pumped for the night's game, but the fact that coach Matheny had to keep imploring the rest of the crowd to make some noise shows that they are still learning how to make Elon a tough place to play.CHARLESTON 56, at ELON 54
CHARLESTON 5-2 (1-0) -- A. Baru 4-7 1-3 9; W. Hall 8-14 2-2 19; A. Lawrence 3-5 3-4 11; A. Stitt 2-6 1-2 5; A. Thomas 2-8 0-1 4; N. Johnson 1-1 2-2 5; T. Johnson 0-2 0-0 0; M. Sundberg 1-2 1-2 3; T. Dixon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-45 10-16 56.
ELON 5-3 (1-1) -- L. Troutman 6-15 0-0 12; T. Samson 1-5 2-2 4; R. Beaumont 5-11 3-3 14; A. Hamilton 3-12 0-2 7; J. Isenbarger 3-7 0-0 9; S. Koch 1-4 0-0 3; K. Blake 0-2 2-4 2; E. Edomwonyi 0-0 0-0 0; T. Sabato 1-1 1-1 3; R. Winters 0-0 0-0 0; J. Bonney 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-58 8-12 54.
Three-point goals: COFC 4-9 (M. Sundberg 0-1; A. Lawrence 2-3; W. Hall 1-2; N. Johnson 1-1; A. Stitt 0-1; A. Thomas 0-1), ELON 6-25 (J. Bonney 0-1; R. Beaumont 1-5; J. Isenbarger 3-4; S. Koch 1-3; L. Troutman 0-1; A. Hamilton 1-7; T. Samson 0-4); Rebounds: COFC 31 (W. Hall 12), ELON 29 (R. Beaumont 7); Assists: COFC 12 (A. Stitt 6), ELON 9 (A. Hamilton 3); Total Fouls -- COFC 12, ELON 16; Fouled Out: COFC-None; ELON-None.
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