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Elon’s energy evens the score against College of Charleston

On Saturday, College of Charleston had energy to burn while steamrolling Elon.

Twenty-four hours later, the energy had been transferred. 

Elon led from start to finish in a 66-55 win over the Cougars on Feb. 14 at TD Arena, collecting its first CAA victory and demonstrating the demands of the back-to-back games on the Colonial Athletic Association’s COVID-19 schedule.

Hunter McIntosh scored 20 points and Simon Wright added 15 as Elon (4-8, 1-7) snapped an eight-game skid and won for the first time since Dec. 16.

Zep Jasper scored 18 for the Cougars (8-9, 6-4), which led Elon by as many as 31 in a 71-53 rout the day before.

“A lot changed in 24 hours,” said Charleston coach Earl Grant. “It was unbelievable. I just have to give Elon credit. It’s hard to lose the way they did yesterday, then come out show that much character today, playing inspired basketball.

“We were amazing yesterday with our energy level, and today we were not quite as good.”

The game started much as it did on Saturday, when Elon jumped out to a 10-2 lead. This time, the Phoenix were up 10-3 and then 15-5.

But on Sunday, the Cougars had no 15-0 runs in them.

“We were a little sluggish,” said Jasper, who has led the Cougars in scoring four straight games. “I think it was more of a humble thing. We beat them by a lot yesterday, and we all knew they’d come in an play hard. We just started the game off lazily.”

Down 30-26 at the half, the Cougars made their only real run early in the second half, scoring six straight points to tie the game at 32.

Elon responded with a 14-3 run with 3-pointers from Darius Burford, Wright and McIntosh for a 46-35 lead with 12:37 to play.

Zep Jasper is College of Charleston's version of the 'Honey Badger'

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Charleston’s Cam Copeland tried to spark the crowd with a baseline slam to make it 50-46 with 7:59 left, but Elon was not rattled.

McIntosh, who was 4 of 10 from long distance, sank a clutch 3-pointer and Burford scored in the lane. The lead was back up to 12 at 58-46, and the Cougars never got closer than eight after that.

Wright, a 6-7 senior who did not score a point on Saturday, was 3 of 4 from distance and 6 of 7 from the field for his 15 points, and Ikenna Ndugba added 12.

Payton Willis was the only other Cougar in double figures with 11 points as Charleston shot 43 percent from the field and 7 of 23 from 3-point range, with 10 turnovers and just eight assists on 21 baskets.

“They were more connected on defense than yesterday and were a little more desperate,” Grant said of Elon. “They were very inspired and worked hard to make us take some tough shots. I don’t want to say our guys didn’t play with effort. They did such a good job slowing us down offensively, and it’s tough to win a game with just 55 points.”

College of Charleston is at Hofstra Feb. 20-21, and plays its next three games on the road. The Cougars’ final game at TD Arena is set for Feb. 27 against UNC Wilmington.

“We need to lock in on our defense and play together as a team,” Jasper said. “We’ve got to do the little things right, because they all count. On the road, you’ve got to be 10 points better than at home.”

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Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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