ELON, NC - Lawrence Miller scored a team-high 15 points, keyed by five 3-pointers, and Mike Groselle added 14 points but it was Elon that emerged with the 71-66 victory in a tightly contested Southern Conference hardwoods battle on Saturday evening. Miller, who recorded back-to-back double figure games for the first time in his collegiate career, reached the milestone in his second career start. The Phoenix were led by the offensive efforts of Jack Isenbarger and Lucas Troutman, who finished with 34 and 14 points, respectively.
The energized Citadel lineup hit 24-of-54 (44.4%) from the floor, including six 3-pointers, while knocking down 12-of-19 (63.2%) from the free throw line. Groselle led the way by hitting 7-of-13 from the field, while Miller came through with a 5-for-10 outing, all coming from beyond the arc. Groselle also added eight rebounds, grabbing four on the offensive glass, while teammate Bo Holston was responsible for four. Marshall Harris III dished out a game-high four assists, joined by Jordan Robertson, Holston and Groselle, who finished with two each for the Cadets. The loss drops The Citadel to 4-19 overall and 1-11 in conference play.
Isenbarger, who finished 11-for-16 from the field and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, paced an Elon lineup that was 25-of-57 (43.9%) in the contest. The Phoenix managed six 3-pointers and capitalized on a 15-of-21 (71.4%) performance from the free throw line to complete the five-point win. Troutman, the only remaining Elon player in double figures, scored 14 points and hauled in a team-high eight rebounds. The Phoenix controlled the low post by finishing with a 30-24 edge in points in the paint as well as an 11-8 advantage in second chance points. The back-to-back wins by Elon this weekend improves them to 12-10 overall and 7-4 in league action.
Trailing by one point at the break, Elon opened second half scoring with a 3-pointer by Isenbarger to take the lead 34-32 just 36 seconds into action. After Groselle answered with a 10-foot jumper for the Bulldogs, tying the game at 34-34, Elon rattled off the next five points to jump in front 39-34.
Clinging to a 44-40 lead, with The Citadel applying defensive pressure, Elon came through with three points by Ryley Beaumont and a jumper by Isenbarger to stretch the lead to nine.
Miller responded to the challenge with back-to-back 3-pointers for The Citadel, trimming the lead to four points in less than 30 seconds and following a jumper in the lane by Bray, the Dogs trailed 52-48 with 9:11 left.
Buckets by Isenbarger and Brett Ervin pushed Elon's lead back to nine, 57-48, before another Miller 3-pointer narrowed the gap to six. Just under a minute later, Holston glided past the Phoenix defense for an acrobatic layup to make for a 57-53 lead.
After Elon pushed the lead to 63-55, behind four points from Isenbarger, the Dogs turned the momentum of the game with their defensive efforts. Behind two turnovers and six straight points by Harris III, The Citadel was within 63-61 of the lead.
Elon closed out the game by hitting eight free throws in the final 1:11 of play, while limiting the Dogs to five points, including a DeVontae Wright 3-pointer, to complete the victory.
The Bulldogs introduced their eighth different starting lineup of the season including three freshmen, Robertson, Harris III and Miller, marking the first time that a trio of rookies started for the Dogs since Jan. 14, 2008, when Austin Dahn, Cameron Wells and Zach Urbanus cracked the lineup on the same date. The result was positive for the Cadets, who knocked down 11-of-21 (52.4%) field goal attempts, including 2-of-5 (40%) from beyond the arc. Groselle led seven players in scoring with eight points, followed by Miller and Moore who each contributed six. Miller accounted for both of the Bulldogs 3-pointers, hitting 2-of-3 in the opening frame.
Elon answered with a 13-of-35 (37.1%) performance from the floor in the opening half, paced by Isenbarger and Troutman, who hit five field goals each. The Phoenix struggled from long range, knocking down just 3-of-13 (23.1%) 3-point attempts, led by two from Isenbarger. Those two long range shots by Isenbarger gave him 14 points for the first half, while Troutman added 10 points and four rebounds. Elon capitalized on its post play by edging The Citadel 16-14, taking advantage of six second chance points in the process.
Behind a game opening 3-pointer by Miller and four straight points from Groselle, The Citadel established an early 7-2 advantage just 2:26 into the contest. Just over a minute later Miller drained his second 3-pointer to provide a seven-point cushion, 10-3, on a pass from Robertson.
After Elon cut the deficit to five, Holston placed his name in the scorebook with a layup, stretching the advantage to 14-5 and quickly forcing a Phoenix timeout. Elon responded by scoring the next four straight points and after a Citadel breather the Dogs managed free throws from Robertson and Moore to assume a 20-11 lead with 12:03 remaining.
Troutman buried a jumper from the elbow, sparking an 11-2 Phoenix run that included consecutive 3-pointers by Isenbarger and Spradlin to tie the game at 22-22 with 7:34 on the clock.
The Dogs regained the lead on a jumper by Wright before a series of ties knotted the game at 28-28 with 4:16 remaining.
Isenbarger gave Elon a 29-28 lead before Moore hit his first field goal of the half at the 3:07 mark. The two teams endured a two minute scoring lull before Troutman gave the Phoenix a 31-30 lead with just over a minute to play. With time winding down, The Citadel answered with a layup by Moore to take a 32-31 lead into the locker room.