GAMES NOTES: The Western Carolina Catamounts will attempt to maintain their early stranglehold on the top spot in the Southern Conference's North Division when they host the Elon Phoenix on Monday night at the Ramsey Center.
An 80-70 loss to Appalachian State on Saturday was the second straight loss for Elon. The Phoenix are now hovering around .500 with an overall record of 8-7, which includes just a 1-2 ledger against SoCon foes. When the Phoenix have hit the road they have managed three wins in eight trips. Elon opens up a three-game homestand next beginning against Furman.
The Catamounts are a perfect 4-0 in SoCon play after a 62-59 victory over UNC Greensboro on Saturday. The win was the third straight for the Catamounts after the team had lost five of its previous six. The Catamounts are just 7-9 overall but have won four of their five contests at the Ramsey Center. Up next for Western Carolina are back-to-back road matchups against Samford and Chattanooga.
These teams split the season series a year ago with the road team coming out on top each time. The Catamounts have won four of the last five overall but still trail the all-time series, 52-39.
Elon just couldn't keep pace with Appalachian State on Saturday. The teams were knotted at 34-34 at halftime but the Phoenix shot just 42.9 percent in the second frame, including a 2-of-11 effort from beyond the arc. Points off turnovers were a major factor with the Phoenix outscored 20-8 in the category.
Shooting has not been a real strength for Elon this season as it ranks just ninth in the SoCon in field goal percentage (41.9 ppg). That hasn't stopped the Phoenix from ranking among the top five scoring teams (69.2 ppg). Ball movement has helped as Elon is second in the league in assists (13.5 pg). On the defensive end the Phoenix is limiting teams to 40.7 percent shooting and 65.3 points per game. Lucas Troutman (14.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) leads a trio of players scoring in double figures by shooting at a solid 50.5 percent from the field. Troutman is also the top shot-blocker in the league (2.2 bpg). Jack Isenbarger (14.3 ppg) is the second option but his efficiency could use some work as he shoots at a 38 percent clip. Ryley Beaumont (10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is a solid scorer and rebounder.
Western Carolina hit 7-of-10 free throw attempts in the final minute to hold off UNC Greensboro on Saturday. The Catamounts shot just 31.9 percent in the contest including a miserable 1-of-13 from beyond the arc. A 31-13 edge from the charity stripe pushed the Catamounts to victory.
The Catamounts rank in the top five in the conference in both scoring (69.8 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.432). The team also boasts of three players scoring in double figures, led by Trey Sumler (16.9 ppg, 3.8 apg). Tawaski King (11.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is the top rebounder on the squad, while Tom Tankelewicz (10.0 ppg) is a serviceable third scoring option.
These teams look to be evenly matched, but the superior shooting Catamounts will have the advantage on their home floor.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 69, Elon 63
01/14 10:33:26 ET
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