Elon sweeps season series against UNCW

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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Graduate guard Marcus Sheffield II poured in a game-high 18 points, including a dagger in the paint with 18 seconds remaining, as Elon completed a sweep of the regular season series with UNCW with a 62-56 Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball victory on Thursday night at Trask Coliseum.

The Phoenix improved to 8-17 overall and 4-8 in the CAA with its third conference win in four games and the team’s first road win in 11 tries. The Seahawks dropped their third in a row and fell to 7-18 and 2-10.

“We had a heckuva defensive performance…we just didn’t just have a lot of offense to go with it,” said interim UNCW head coach Rob Burke. “We had a hard time scoring the basketball. The Achilles heel tonight was turnovers. That really hurts us. I’m not upset with our guys. I’m proud of their fight. We have to the turn the page to Saturday.”

Sheffield converted 7-of-14 field goals and added a pair of free throws for the Phoenix, who featured seven players with at least five points. The transfer from Stanford was the lone Elon player in double figures.

Junior guard Ty Gadsden paced the Seahawks with 15 points while grabbing five rebounds. The Charlotte, N.C. native was joined in double figures by junior guard Mike Okauru with 11 points and a team-high seven boards.

Elon forged out to a 30-23 lead at halftime and the advantage shrunk to 59-56 after Gadsden nailed a three-pointer to force an Elon timeout with 42 seconds to go. The Phoenix ran a play for Sheffield and the slippery guard delivered, driving the right side for a layup with 18 seconds on the clock for the clincher.

Elon built an early 16-6 lead at the 13:42 mark as UNCW went over seven minutes between field goals after Okauru opened the game with a layup. Redshirt sophomore forward Marten Linssen broke the drought with a spinning layup at the 12:41 mark in the first half.

A pair of three-pointers by sophomore guards Kris Wooten and Andy Pack gave the Phoenix their biggest lead of the opening period, 24-12, with 8:14 left in the half.

Early in the second period, the Seahawks closed the gap to five points, 40-35, after Okauru converted an old-fashioned three-point play at the 10:52 mark. But Phoenix sophomore forward Federico Poser hit a jumper and freshman guard Hunter Woods followed with a pair of free-throws to extend the margin back to 44-35 with 10:04 left.

Both teams played without key contributors due to injuries. UNCW freshman point guard Shykeim Phillips remains in the concussion protocol, while Elon freshman scorer Zac Ervin had surgery on Wednesday to repair a hand injury. Ervin poured in a game-high 27 points in Elon’s 80-63 victory over the Seahawks on Jan. 11 at the Schar Center.

The Seahawks return to the court on Saturday with a quick turnaround, playing host to William & Mary in the annual homecoming game at 7 p.m.

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