While losing 15 of 19 games thus far, The Citadel’s basketball team has endured a lot of painful moments.
The last five minutes of Saturday’s 70-66 loss to Elon, before 1,319 at McAlister Field House, will go down as some of the most painful of all.
Down by just four points with 5:18 left, and with center Mike Groselle having his way with the Phoenix defense, the Bulldogs squandered a chance at an upset of the Southern Conference North Division leader.
Three turnovers, two of them unforced, and four missed shots down the stretch allowed Elon (13-7, 6-2) to escape with its five-game win streak intact.
“Down the stretch, we turned the ball over and we were hesitant,” said Groselle, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. “They put a little pressure on us, and we kind of fell apart.”
The Citadel committed 14 turnovers, under their season average of 16.4 per game. But eight of those came in the second half, those three in the final five minutes looming large.
“We’re knocking on the door,” said Citadel coach Chuck Driesell, whose team is 4-15 overall and 1-8 in the SoCon. “But we’re struggling with a minute or two in the game to be able to put the ball in the hole. We had 14 turnovers, which is not a bad number for us. But it’s when we did them that really hurt.”
Groselle hit 8 of 11 shots and scored 12 of his 20 points in the second half. Freshman Matt Van Scyoc also scored 20 as The Citadel shot 47.9 percent, battled Elon to a standstill on the boards and had 14 assists on 23 baskets. Guard Marshall Harris, leading the SoCon in assists, had nine points and seven assists.
“I really like our offense,” Driesell said. “We’re moving the ball, we’re getting good shots, we’re setting good screens … It comes down to the last five minutes of the game.”
Groselle’s final bucket at 5:18 cut what had been a 10-point Elon lead to 64-60, but the Bulldogs would not score another field goal until the final 20 seconds.
And they had plenty of chances. Elon went 0 for 5 with a turnover from the 5:08 mark to under a minute left.
“It’s frustrating,” said Van Scyoc. “I don’t know how many games we’ve had come down the stretch and been right there. One of these nights it will go our way. We did a lot of good things for about 36 minutes, then we went into a drought, and that’s what’s been hurting us in the close games we’ve had.”
Sophomore forward P.J. Horgan threw a couple of errant passes, and Elon’s 6-10 Lucas Troutman stole an entry pass meant for Groselle. Troutman hit a jumper at the other end for a 68-61 lead with 39 seconds left, sealing the deal.
Guard Jack Isenbarger (4 of 11 from 3-point range) scored 22 points and freshman Tanner Samson (5-12) had 15. Elon made 12 of 32 from long distance, most of those against the 2-3 zone the Bulldogs played for the first 30 minutes or so.
“We’re frustrated, but not in a negative sense,” said Driesell, whose team hosts Wofford on Thursday.
“We’re frustrated we’re not winning these games, against good teams, because we think we can. We’re frustrated that we’re not closing out games when we have a chance.”
ELON (13-7): Beaumont 3-7 0-0 6, Troutman 7-11 0-0 14, Samson 5-12 0-0 15, Isenbarger 8-16 2-2 22, Koch 3-10 0-0 9, Bonney 1-2 0-0 2, Sabato 0-1 0-0 0, Edomwonyi 0-0 0-0 0, Winters 0-0 2-4 2. Totals 27-59 4-6 70.
THE CITADEL (4-15): Horgan 2-4 3-6 8, Groselle 8-11 4-5 20, Harris III 3-10 1-2 9, Moore 2-7 0-0 5, Van Scyoc 7-14 5-6 20, Setzekorn 0-0 2-2 2, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, Jenkins 0-0 0-0 0, Elmore 1-1 0-0 2, Miller 0-1 0-1 0. Totals 23-48 15-22 66.
Halftime—Elon 38-33. 3-Point Goals—Elon 12-32 (Samson 5-12, Isenbarger 4-11, Koch 3-7, Beaumont 0-1, Bonney 0-1), The Citadel 5-18 (Harris III 2-6, Horgan 1-1, Moore 1-4, Van Scyoc 1-6, Miller 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Elon 30 (Beaumont, Koch 6), The Citadel 30 (Groselle, Horgan 9). Assists—Elon 16 (Isenbarger 8), The Citadel 14 (Harris III 7). Total Fouls—Elon 17, The Citadel 11. A—1,319.
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.