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Carter, Trice score 20 each as Phoenix falls to Appalachian State

Elon falls out of first place in SoCon North Division with loss in Boone

by Zachary Horner,
  • Lucas Troutman had nine points and ten rebounds for the Phoenix against Appalachian State Thursday afternoon. File photo by Al Drago.

A dejected Elon Phoenix bench, usually more supportive when a player is subbed out, mostly stared forward, or at the floor. As freshman guard Kevin Blake returned to the bench after a minute of action with about four minutes left in the second half, only four of the nine Phoenix bench players stood and clapped in support.

It was that kind of game.

Appalachian State University senior guards Jamaal Trice and Omar Carter scored 20 points each as the Mountaineers beat the Phoenix 81-66 Saturday afternoon in Boone.

"I feel good about the way we came out," Appalachian State head coach Jason Capel said. "We were sharp. The thing I'm most proud of is that we got stronger as the game went on."

After shooting just 36.7% from the field in the first half, Appalachian State (9-11 overall, 5-5 SoCon) hit 76% of their shots in the second half, pulling away with a 15-5 run in the first four minutes of the latter frame.

"At first media (timeout), you want to come out and instill your will, and I think we did that," Capel said. "We didn't settle, we rebounded and defended."

The Mountaineers applied the pressure on defense, limiting passing lanes and shooting opportunities, holding Elon (10-10, 5-4 SoCon) to 28.6% shooting in the first half and 37.9% throughout the game. 

"I think we weren't using our screens as well as we should have," Elon freshman guard Austin Hamilton said. "When that happens, pacing is bad. It's hard to get shots off with the pressure that App State applies."

Carter, the preseason SoCon Player of the Year, had 14 second-half points and eleven rebounds in the game, going for a double-double. Senior forward Andre Williamson added nine points and ten rebounds for the Mountaineers. 

Sophomore guard Jack Isenbarger had 20 points and five rebounds to lead the Phoenix. Freshman guard Austin Hamilton added ten points and three assists and sophomore forward Lucas Troutman had nine points and ten rebounds despite not making a field goal until there was 3:19 left in the game.

Troutman struggled all afternoon down low against Mountaineer big men Williamson and senior center Isaac Butts, coming away with four of Elon's 18 turnovers.

"They did a good job of making it difficult for him to catch it in a comfort area," Elon head coach Matt Matheny said, "and I thought they crowded him really well. Lucas has done in the past a better job of handling it than he did today."

With the loss and a UNCG victory over Western Carolina University in overtime Thursday afternoon, Elon fell to second in the SoCon North Division and Appalachian State moved up to third, half a game behind the Phoenix.

"I don't even think about (the standings)," Matheny said. "The one thing that we can control at Elon is to be the best that we can be. If we're the best that we can be, that gives us a chance to move on and win games."

The victory was Appalachian State's seventh straight against Elon dating back to 2008. The two teams will play again Feb. 6 at Alumni Gym, and a late-game incident made that game a little more exciting.

With ten seconds remaining in the second half, Elon sophomore forward Ryley Beaumont attempted a pass that was intercepted by hustling Mountaineer forward Nathan Healy. As Healy went to lay the ball in, Beaumont almost tackled Healy from behind at the neck, inciting the crowd and Healy, who had to be restrained by a couple teammates.

"That incident fueled our fire a little bit," Carter said. "I'm pretty confident we can go down there (to Elon) and win."

"Can't wait," Trice added.