GAME NOTES: The Elon Phoenix have been on a three-game tumble since a loss to UMass on Jan. 18. They'll try to turn it around against the Western Carolina Catamounts in Southern Conference action at Alumni Gym.
The Catamounts ended a two-game losing skid with a 78-60 victory over The Citadel Saturday. Even with the two-game losing streak, Western Carolina is 6-2 in its last eight games played. At 5-2 in the SoCon standings, WCU is two and a half games back of the conference lead.
Elon had won three in a row and five of its last seven games prior to its three-game current losing streak. The Phoenix dropped a tight 62-59 contest to Samford in their most recent outing. Elon was 3-1 in SoCon standings, but is now an even 3-3 in the conference.
Elon has a slight all-time series lead over Western Carolina, 45-39. The Catamounts have already defeated Elon once this season, a 74-62 thumping in Cullowhee.
Western Carolina quickly ran to a 14-point halftime lead over the Citadel, then cruised in the second half en route to the 18-point victory. Tom Tankelewicz posted 15 points to lead the Catamounts over the Bulldogs, while Trey Sumler and Justin Browning each chipped in 10 points. Browning added a team-best seven rebounds coming off the bench. The Catamounts shot 45.5 percent from the floor in the win.
Sumler leads the team in scoring this season with an impressive 18.3 ppg average on 44.9 percent shooting from the floor. Sumler's 4.5 apg mark is a team-high, while his 4.3 rpg is second-most on the team this year. James Sinclair is second on the squad with 10.2 ppg, while Brandon Boggs and Tankelewicz are tied at 10 ppg apiece.
Elon outscored Samford 32-28 in the second half of Saturday's Southern Conference showdown, but it wasn't enough for the Phoenix to come back from a seven-point halftime deficit. Jack Isenbarger led the team with 15 points and tied a team-best with five assists. Ryley Beaumont added 13 points in the losing effort. The Phoenix shot 39.2 percent from the floor in the game.
Lucas Troutman, who scored eight points in the loss to Samford, leads the team in scoring this season with a 15.5 ppg average and an impressive 51.9 shooting percentage from the field. Troutman's 6 rpg mark is a team-best as well, along with 38 blocked shots. Sebastian Koch is second in scoring at 12.8 ppg, and Tanner Samson is third with 10.2 ppg. The Phoenix average 76.2 ppg through 21 contests this season.
Elon's point totals have been declining in the last three games, having gone from 74 in a loss to UMass to 59 in the loss to Samford. Western Carolina isn't the most explosive offensive team, but if Elon can't find a rhythm early the game could swing the Catamounts' way fast.
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