For the first 20 minutes, it looked like Georgia Southern was going to end the regular season with some momentum.
In the last 20 minutes, Elon made sure that didn’t happen.
The Eagles led by three at halftime and shot a season-high 66.7 percent, but Elon exploded in the second half to outscore GSU 43-25 and leave Hanner Fieldhouse with a 72-57 win Saturday on senior night.
Neither senior on Georgia Southern’s squad contributed in the game.
Johntavious Rucker and Rory Spencer were honored in the pregame, but Rucker sat out the season academically ineligible and Spencer suffered a hamstring injury after Thursday’s 57-56 loss to UNC Greensboro. Spencer got the start for GSU (5-26, 1-17), but sat out for the final 39-plusminutes after the first stoppage of play.
“Not having Rory Spencer in the lineup was a tough, tough blow,” said GSU coach Charlton Young. “We tried to rehab him, we tried to get him back in time for the game, and when he went out to warm up, he just couldn’t do it. It’s hard when it’s senior night and you don’t get to go out there and battle for us.”
Freshman Eric Ferguson didn’t start, but had a monster first half, entering the game and putting up 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
He finished with a team-high 16 points.
Elon (13-16, 7-11 Southern Conference), however, scored 26 points off of 22 Georgia Southern turnovers.
“The turnover bug popped up again,” Young said. “Jelani Hewitt played like a freshman with seven turnovers, Cam Baskerville had five and we had 22 in the game. We’re going to fight to rehab and get ready for the tournament. If we’re going to salvage our season, we’ve got to win some games in the tournament.”
Elon saw four players score in double digits. Drew Spradlin (16 points) led the way, while Lucas Troutman (14), point guard Chris Long (12) and Ryley Beaumont (11) had big nights offensively for the Phoenix.
Ferguson, Ben Drayton (13) and Zuri James (12) scored in double digits for the Eagles.
The Southern Conference tournament begins Friday for the Eagles, who will face No. 3 seed Appalachian State at around 4:30 p.m. in McKenzie Arena, home of the Chattanooga Mocs, Friday in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.