ELON, N.C. — Georgia Southern was unable to handle Elon’s size on Saturday night, falling 84-62 to the Phoenix at Alumni Gym. The defeat closed the Eagles’ tour of North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad. GSU was led by Jelani Hewitt, who scored 18 points. Senior forward Rory Spencer had a career-high 13 rebounds to lead all players.
“It’s a difficult thing to win on the road in this league,” said GSU coach Charlton Young. “This Elon team is one of the best defensive teams we will play all year. We did a great job to out-rebound Elon in the second half and pull down 41 total rebounds.”
Georgia Southern’s (4-17, 0-8 Southern Conference) Hewitt also notched seven rebounds and two steals. Junior guard Ben Drayton III scored in double-figures for the 10th straight game with 14 to go along with his six assists. Spencer had nine points on the night.
Elon (10-10, 4-5) was led by 21 points from Drew Spradlin and 17 out of Lucas Troutman.
GSU freshman Tré Bussey produced nine points, narrowly missing his sixth double-figure scoring night of the season. Freshman Eric Ferguson had five points after scoring 24 against UNC Greensboro in the Eagles’ last outing on Thursday.
The Eagles struggled in the early going falling behind by 10 points, and Elon pushed the lead to 15 with 4:13 remaining in the opening period. Hewitt’s 10 first-half points paced the Eagles as he drained a pair of clutch 3-pointers.
Ferguson picked up three fouls in only six minutes of playing time in the first half.
A late surge by the Eagles cut the advantage to 10 points at 1:21 on a 3-pointer from Drayton, who scored seven points in the first half. Spencer was successful on a pair of free throws with 55 seconds remaining to bring Georgia Southern within eight. Elon added four more to take a 40-28 lead at the half.
Georgia Southern’s first-half defense held the Phoenix to a .375 shooting performance and continued in the early minutes of the second half to give Elon problems. GSU got within seven points at 17:33 on a 3 by Bussey.
Georgia Southern, however, went the next 6:22 without a field goal as Elon amassed a 19-point lead midway through the second half. Elon stretched the lead to 28 points at the 8:47 mark before settling at the 22-point margin, 84-62.
Hampered by 24 total turnovers while making just nine assists, GSU shot an even .400 (22-of-55) for the night while holding Elon to a .412 (28-for-68) shooting. Georgia Southern was out-rebounded 42-41 and Elon had a 20-15 advantage on the offensive glass. Elon’s deep bench saw the Phoenix run 17 players into the game while eight of the Eagles’ 10 players saw double-digit minutes of playing time. The Phoenix posted 46 points off the bench to Georgia Southern’s 23.
Georgia Southern returns home for two games at Hanner Fieldhouse, first with a 7 p.m. game against College of Charleston on Wednesday, Jan. 26, and a Monday, Jan 31 game versus Davidson. The game against the Cougars has been designated “Military Appreciation Night.” All Military personnel receive free admission.