Elon takes down Northeastern for second consecutive win
“Pound the rock.”
That’s been the message that Elon University basketball coach Matt Matheny has been telling his team all year.
And after snapping a seven-game losing streak on Saturday against Delaware, the Phoenix continued to chip away at that rock with a 72-65 win over preseason Colonial Athletic Association favorite Northeastern.
“You come to Alumni Gym you’re going to play a team that’s going to fight for 40 minutes,” Elon forward Christian Hairston said, “We’re not where we want to be in the standings, but we just keep fighting. We don’t Care where you are in the standings. We’re going to give you our best basketball.”
“I thought we came out ready to play and our guys were locked in,” Matheny said. “We had a vivid memory of our experience up in Boston where [Northeastern] really knocked us on our heels. But more important than that, we are trying to get better and take full advantage of the time remaining in the season to make a statement about who we are.”
The last two games mark Elon’s first back-to-back wins since the Phoenix beat Marist and Drexel on Dec. 28 and Jan. 3.
“It feels great,” Hairston said. “We’ve been working hard and this isn’t the season we all thought that we would have, but I gotta give it up to coach. He’s kept his faith us, he’s stayed confident in us and he’s been telling us that we can do it. We’ve just got to dig in.”
And Elon dug in, coming out of the gate hot and jumping to an early 21-10 lead. A two-handed dunk by freshman Dmitri Thompson capped off the run and set the Alumni Gym crowd ablaze. But the Huskies went on a run of their own, fighting back and, grabbing a 27-23 lead late in the second half. But that was the last time Northeastern would be up, as the Phoenix went on a 5-0 run and headed into the break up 28-27.
Coming out of the half, Elon went on an 18-7 run to put the game out of reach. The Huskies switched into a pressure defense following the run and managed to pull within two. But that was as close as they would get the rest of the way as the Phoenix avenged an 80-61 loss at Northeastern on Jan. 31.
Elon relied on a balanced approach that saw five players score at least nine points, led by Thompson and junior Tanner Samson with 16 and 13 respectively.
“I feel like when everything is balanced like that and everyone is pitching in and giving something to a game, that’s when we play our best basketball,” Thompson said.
Northeastern was led by Scott Eatherton, who scored a game-high 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting. David Walker also finished in double-figures for the Huskies with 17 points.
Elon will conclude its regular season on Saturday when it hosts UNC Wilmington on Saturday. The Phoenix lost to the Seahawks 82-65 on January 28.
Following its regular season finale, Elon will head up to Baltimore, Maryland for the CAA Tournament. The Phoenix will face off against Towson at 6 p.m. on March 6 as either the eighth or ninth seed.