ESPN SportsCenter showcases dramatic Elon men’s and women’s basketball wins

The Phoenix basketball teams displayed their resolve and grit with two clutch non-conference wins.

Elon’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both battled back from double-digit deficits to score game-winning buckets in dramatic fashion Wednesday night. Both efforts were highlighted on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Both games tipped at 7 p.m. with Elon’s men’s basketball team hosting perennial NCAA Tournament team Winthrop. Just 25 miles down the road, Elon’s women’s basketball team battled UNC Greensboro in a rivalry game.

Both games got off to a rather inauspicious start as the men fell behind 16-4 less than seven minutes into the contest and the women gave up the first nine points before Brie Perpignan’s jumper got the Phoenix on the board. But both games would eventually turn. The men whittled away at the lead in the first half and Hunter McIntosh’s three-pointer at the halftime buzzer pulled Elon within five at 30-25. The women, on the other hand, trailed 32-19 at the break and were down as many as 19 points at 40-21 with 5:30 to play in the third quarter. But that’s when the magic began.

The Women’s rally

Trailing by 19 with less than 16 minutes to play, it looked bleak for the women. But Elon rallied with an 8-0 run and still trailed by 11 after Vanessa Taylor closed the third quarter with a three-pointer. UNC Greensboro pushed the advantage to 12 points early in the fourth but the women clamped down defensively and allowed only two points over the final 9:40 of action. Perpignan’s lay-up with 1:23 to go brought Elon within two and Evonna McGill scored with 19 seconds left to tie the game at 49-49. UNC Greensboro had the chance to hold for the final shot but a turnover with four seconds remaining set Elon up for the final mooment.

Head coach Charlotte Smith called a timeout and advanced the ball to mid-court. Perpignan inbounded the ball to Kayla Liles, who found Perpignan on a backdoor cut for the game-winning layup while being fouled. Perpignan made the free-throw and Elon won 52-49.

The Men follow suit

The men’s game lagged about 10 minutes behind the women’s contest as the second half began, but the Phoenix quickly took over in the final 20 minutes. A Chuck Hannah three-pointer tied the game at 32-32 and Elon finally took the lead at 34-33 on Michael Graham’s dunk with 15:27 remaining. Elon would push the lead to seven but Winthrop was not done yet. Winthrop forward DJ Burns Jr. made two free-throws with 47 seconds left and then scored inside with 9.9 seconds left to give the Eagles a 61-60 advantage.

Elon advanced the ball the mid-court before head coach Michael Schrage used a timeout to set up the final play. Hunter McIntosh penetrated and found Jerald Gillens-Butler on the wing for the game-winning three-pointer. It was Gillens-Butler’s first basket of the game and came exactly one year to the day after tearing his achilles.