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Elon spoils senior night for GSU

Elon spoils senior night for GSU

Elon spoils senior night for GSU

Georgia Southern guard Jelani Hewitt,...


    Georgia Southern played its last game in Hanner Fieldhouse as a member of the Southern Conference, and it wasn’t a pleasant farewell.
    The Eagles missed six straight shots from the floor in the final 4 minutes, 58 seconds as the Elon Phoenix held on for a 66-61 win on Saturday afternoon.
    Lucas Troutman, one of the premier forwards in the SoCon, was his usual self for Elon (17-11, 12-3 SoCon), leading all scorers with 20 points.
    “Early on it was more of our lack of focus that got him going,” GSU coach Mark Byington said. "But once he gets going he’s a bear to stop.”
    Georgia Southern (12-17, 5-9) was led by senior Tre Bussey (16 points) in the last game in Hanner for all of the team’s seniors —Bussey, Marvin Baynham and Brian Holmes.
    Bussey was emotional about his four-year career at GSU, where he stayed when Mark Byington took over the program before this season.
    “I love Georgia Southern and I love the fans. I didn’t leave,” Bussey said. “When (former coach Charlton Young) left, I didn’t leave, because of the school and the environment. It’s been a great four years, and I’m going to miss it.”
    The Eagles trailed by as many as nine in the second half but battled back and cut the Phoenix lead to 45-43 on a Curtis Diamond jumper before Elon responded with an Austin Hamilton layup and a Troutman dunk.
    The Eagles continued knocking on the door but Elon kept slamming it.
    An Angel Matias (10 points) layup cut the Phoenix lead to 51-47, but Jack Isenberger (14 points) answered with a 3.
    After Holmes drilled a 3 to cut the score to 56-55, Elon answered with 3s by Isenberger and Tanner Samson (12 points).
    Leading 62-58, Elon committed two consecutive shot clock violations, and GSU didn’t score on either.
    Elon’s biggest first-half surge came midway through the first half when it made a 10-3 run that featured a pair of Troutman layups bookended by a pair of Samson 3-pointers, the second of which gave the Phoenix a 28-18 advantage.
    Troutman owned the paint in the first half, making 5 of 7 shots from the floor.
    The Eagles played even in the final 10 minutes and trailed 34-27 at the half after leading early 6-5, on a Jelani Hewitt 3, his only points of the first 20 minutes.
    Hewitt finished with 13 points.
    Holmes finished with 11 senior-night points. Baynham hauled in 14 rebounds.
    “I’m really proud of all those seniors,” Byington said. “They’ve given me everything they have since I took over, and they’re going to be the foundation for a really good basketball program. I was hoping they’d have a nice memory here winning on senior day, but they’re going to have some opportunities. It’s not our last game.”
    Freshman Kyle Doyle played limited minutes after returning from a concussion suffered on Feb. 8, at Elon.
    The Eagles are back in action on Thursday at Furman at 7 p.m., in Greenville, S.C.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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