Elon downs Western Carolina with second half surge

Elon handed Western Carolina their first conference loss of the season. (Photo by Mayk Haskett)

Trey Sumler scored a career high 32 points for Western Carolina but it wasn’t enough as Elon forward Lucas Troutman scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and junior guard Jack Isenbarger scored 16 points, all in the second half, to help the Phoenix defeat the Catamounts 80-67 on Monday in the Ramsey Center.

Troutman, like Isenbarger, did most of his damage in the second half scoring 14 points.

“I thought Lucas was sensational tonight,” said Elon head coach Matt Mathney. “I love how tough he was tonight. Western did a good job of doubling him and making him uncomfortable in the first half.

“Jack was thrust into the role of playing the point, he played well and I like the way our leadership helped us get this team victory.”

WCU struck first in the first half with three baskets to take a quick 6-2 lead by the first media timeout. However Elon, led by Ryley Beaumont and Troutman, used a 15-6 run to claim a 17-12 advantage with 10:36 remaining in the half.

Elon widened its lead to 21-14 on a Troutman dunk.

The Catamounts responded with an 11-1 run of their own fueled by junior guard Trey Sumler who chipped in seven points to take a three point lead. Sumler wasn’t done as he added four free throws with in the final seconds of the half for a 31-27 Catamount lead at the break.

Sumler led all scorers in the first half with 15 points.

In the second half, WCU seemed poised to take control of the game after a 3-pointer from Sumler gave the Catamounts their largest lead of the game at six.

Elon would not be denied as a couple of baskets from Troutman, free throws and a pair of 3-pointers had the Phoenix up 42-39 with 15:15 remaining in the contest.

The Catamounts put together a quick 6-2 spurt capped by a Brandon Boggs jumper to go ahead briefly 45-44 before their leading scorer, Sumler with 21, was sidelined with his fourth foul.

Smelling blood in the water, Elon capitalized with Sumler out and broke the game open with an 18-3 run powered by a trio 3-pointers to essentially put the game out of reach 62-48 with 7:37 left in the contest.

“Elon started the second half by getting to the foul line and getting some confidence,” said Western Carolina head coach Larry Hunter. “Their key players, Troutman and Isenbarger, got involved in the game offensively. Both of those guys are capable of being All-Conference. I don’t think we had the same defensive intensity and toughness that we had in the first half in the second half.”

WCU never got any closer than nine the rest of the way.

In the second half the Phoenix outscored the Catamounts in the 18-8 paint and cashed in six WCU turnovers for 14 points.

Troutman led four Elon scorers in double figures with 20 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, Isenbarger chipped in 16, junior Sebastian Koch added 15 behind four 3-pointers and Beaumont had 12 points respectively.

Sumler led all scorers with 32 points, a career-high, and freshman guard Mike Brown chipped in 10 to round out double figure scorers for the Catamounts.

WCU played without its third leading scoring Tom Tankelewicz who was held out due to an academic ineligibility issue.

“It was a tough loss for us, our first lost in the conference,” said a teary-eyed Sumler. “Obviously Elon came in prepared and we were one man down today but that is no excuse. There were mental mistakes, we fell apart here and there and had a little foul trouble as well. Next time we have to execute better.”

The loss snaps WCU’s three game winning streak.

“We have to stay in the moment and we have to play the next game. We are coming off a loss at home and we have two tough road games and that has to be our focus,” said Coach Hunter.

The Catamounts will next travel to Samford on Thursday for the first contest of a two game road swing.