JMU men’s basketball fell to the Phoenix on Thursday, 73-58, as a near triple double (20 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) from Elon senior guard Steven Santa Ana led an Elon team that shot over 41 percent from beyond the arc.
“I thought our execution was pretty good tonight,” Elon head coach Matt Matheny said. “We’re more than willing to fire threes [and] I thought we took, for the most part, the right ones, so I thought we were efficient with our decision making shot selection.”
The Dukes started out hot against the Phoenix, knocking down their first three shot attempts to start the game. However the Phoenix simply started out hotter. Santa Ana scored nine points in only five minutes going 3-for-5 from deep including a near half-court heave as the shot clock expired.
The game slowed and JMU went on a shooting drought, but a corner three from sophomore guard Darius Banks and three consecutive baskets from sophomore forward Dwight Wilson brought the Dukes back within four. However, sinking two’s while the Phoenix sank threes resulted in the Dukes trailing 38-24 at halftime.
“I think our defense was passive tonight,” JMU head coach Louis Rowe said. “I think we have to be aggressive to be good, that’s who we are as a team and I thought we were very passive tonight. We were on our heels all night.”
In the first half, JMU shot an atrocious 17 percent from the free-throw line and connected on only 27 percent of its 11 three-point attempts. Meanwhile, Elon knocked down half of its 16 threes and won the rebound, turnover and bench scoring battles.
In the second half, the shooting balanced out more evenly, yet the first-half woes marred any comeback attempt. After finding itself down by as much as 23 in the second half, JMU was only able to close the gap to 13 before the game’s conclusion. Santa Ana led the way for Elon in the second half with six points, five assists and two rebounds, while Banks led the way for JMU with nine points, two rebounds and an assist.
“It was a bad performance, it might have been our worst the whole season,” redshirt senior guard Stuckey Mosley said. “We just didn’t come out ready and it showed the whole game, and we owe ourselves more than that so we’re going to come out Saturday and be ready to play.”
After winning four out of their last six, including taking down the No. 1 team in the conference last week, JMU dropped to 13-17 (6-11 CAA) and into seventh place in the CAA. The Dukes will wrap up the season Saturday as they take on William & Mary on senior night, the last bit of action before the conference tournament.
Contact Grayson Heflin at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.