For video of coach Mike Dement's postgame comments, click here.
By Rob Daniels
ELON, N.C. – Cutting into double-digit halftime deficits is an impressive trait. For obvious reasons, it's one that the UNCG Spartans would rather keep out of heavy rotation.
The Spartans responded to a 20-point, second-half disadvantage by scoring on nine straight possessions Saturday, but that wasn't enough to overcome homestanding Elon in a 99-90 defeat. Senior guard Chris Long, playing in his final home game, burned UNCG with 22 of his 30 points after the break as the Phoenix completed a sweep in the season series.
"To me, the one thing is 94 points. That's 94 points before we started fouling," coach Mike Dement said. "That's the answer. That's the number.
"We've had games where we're down 20 and we make a run, but sometimes – most of the time – it's not enough to catch up."
Brandon Evans and Trevis Simpson led a remarkably efficient second half for UNCG (5-21, 5-10 Southern Conference,) which scored more points after halftime (59) than it has managed in four complete games this season. The Spartans generated occasional difficulty for Elon with a half-court trap that induced turnovers, but once the Phoenix got a shot, it normally found success. It shot 64 percent from the floor in the second half.
"Coach has been preaching it every day in practice: defense, defense, defense," Evans said. "And we have to listen to him because he obviously knows what he's talking about. He has been around this game a while."
Sebastian Koch went 6-for-12 from the 3-point line to supplement Long's efforts.
The Spartans, who have wiped out sizeable second-half deficits five times this season, found this attempt mitigated by foul trouble, as well as Elon's efficiency in moving the ball around the perimeter. Simpson, who delivered 10 points in two and a half minutes and sliced the deficit to 70-65 with 8:14 left, picked up his fourth foul 34 seconds later and was limited the rest of the way.
The road was simply too long. And, well, Long. The guard ran Elon spread offense with 10 assists and exploited necessary overplays by driving down the lane three times for layups to restore the lead to 11.
"You've got to respect Long," Evans said. "He's a playmaker, and he also scores. If we had contained him better, we would have had a better chance. But it was senior night, and he showed up."
Evans, who came off Dement's bench to author 26 points in 31 minutes of action, fronted the trap, which forced three turnovers in succession and fueled one final run that ran out of time.
Elon built its working margin by holding UNCG scoreless over the final four minutes of the first half to expand an eight-point lead to 46-31 at halftime.
Things briefly trended upward for UNCG when Korey Van Dussen scored six of his 15 points in the first 47 seconds of the second half, but Long followed in short order with consecutive 3-pointers to boost Elon to a 63-43 advantage.
"Elon did some nice things to get shots," Dement said. "And we've given up too many points all year long."
Simpson had 14 for the Spartans, who return to action on Monday when Western Carolina comes to the Greensboro Coliseum in UNCG's final home contest of the year. It will mark the final appearance before the home folks for Evans, the team's lone senior.
Elon 99, UNCG 90
UNCG (5-21, 5-10)
EVANS, Brandon 10-18 3-5 26; COLE, Brian 6-11 2-4 15; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 4-5 5-6 15; SIMPSON, Trevis 6-12 2-3 14; WILLIAMS, David 2-4 2-2 6; RANDALL, Kyle 2-7 1-1 5; BRACKETT, Aaron 1-3 2-4 4; PARKER, Drew 1-2 0-0 3; HENRY, Aloysius 0-1 2-2 2; HENEGAR, Cody 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-64 19-27 90.
ELON (12-15, 6-10)
LONG,Chris 10-14 5-5 30; KOCH,Sebastian 6-12 5-6 23; TROUTMAN,Lucas 4-6 4-4 12; ERVIN,Brett 3-4 2-2 11; BIRDETTE,Terrance 2-4 5-5 10; BEAUMONT,Ryley 2-5 2-7 6; GRABLE,Scott 2-2 0-0 4; SPRADLIN,Drew 1-2 0-0 3; MEYER,David 0-2 0-0 0; ISENBARGER,Jack 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 30-56 23-29 99.
UNCG.......................... 31 59 - 90
Elon.......................... 46 53 - 99
3-point goals--UNCG 7-18 (EVANS, Brandon 3-7; VAN DUSSEN, Korey 2-2; COLE, Brian 1-4; PARKER, Drew 1-1; RANDALL, Kyle 0-1; WILLIAMS, David 0-1; SIMPSON, Trevis 0-2), Elon 16-34 (KOCH,Sebastian 6-12; LONG,Chris 5-8; ERVIN,Brett 3-4; SPRADLIN,Drew 1-2; BIRDETTE,Terrance 1-1; ISENBARGER,Jack 0-5; BEAUMONT,Ryley 0-2). Fouled out--UNCG-SIMPSON, Trevis, Elon-ISENBARGER,Jack. Rebounds--UNCG 36 (VAN DUSSEN, Korey 9; EVANS, Brandon 9), Elon 30 (TROUTMAN,Lucas 5; GRABLE,Scott 5; BEAUMONT,Ryley 5). Assists--UNCG 7 (RANDALL, Kyle 3), Elon 17 (LONG,Chris 10). Total fouls--UNCG 24, Elon 24. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Elon-None. A-1607
- UNCG -