Men’s basketball sweeps in CAA Opening Weekend against Elon


Sarah Olender

Tyson Walker finished the weekend with 35 points and 10 assists from both games as the Huskies swept Elon in their CAA opening weekend

Eamonn Ryan, deputy sports editor

Once freshman forward Jahmyl Telfort hit a three, just as time expired in the first half of Saturday’s CAA matchup, the Huskies kept the lead for the remainder of the weekend.

The first game of the two was a close, defensive battle until halftime, but the Huskies (3-6, 2-0 CAA) broke it open in the second half and went on to win by 23. The second game was much closer, as the Phoenix (3-3, 0-2 CAA) got down early by as much as 18 but rallied to bring it within four with 57 seconds to play. However, they could not complete the comeback and were swept by NU this opening weekend. 

Walker and Telfort combine for 38 as Huskies burn Phoenix for first CAA win

After a tough non-conference schedule, the Huskies pulled away in the second half against Elon and cruised to a 75-62 win. Telfort had 20 points and sophomore guard Tyson Walker had 18 points and five assists, leading the Huskies to victory at the Cabot Center in Boston.

The first half ended with a Telfort three as time expired and the Huskies (2-5, 1-0 CAA) led 29-26 over the Phoenix (3-2, 0-1 CAA) in what looked like a gritty battle. It all changed in the second half; however, when the Huskies went on a 20-6 run that ended with just 4:20 to play. 

“Both teams needed a little time to get going,” head coach Bill Coen said. “The second half, I thought we just settled down and shared the ball a little bit better on the offensive end, penetrated with a purpose, got better spacing and better ball handling. And then our defense allowed us to get some rebounds and get out in transition and get a little bit easier baskets before their defense was set.”

The Phoenix were led by sophomore guard Hunter McIntosh, who finished with 16 points. However, he was the only player to reach double figures in scoring for Elon, as they shot just 17-for-51 from the field and 6-for-26 from three-point range.

While Telfort provided more scoring, Walker was a catalyst for the Huskies. When he drove to the hoop, he either finished at the rim or kicked it out and created opportunities for his teammates.

“Whenever Tyson [Walker] gets us going and gives guys a couple threes and other guys are just aggressive driving to the rim, that changes the game for us,” Telfort said. 

Walker had a tough first half, only managing six points on 2-of-7 shooting, but came alive in the second and ran the offense to perfection for the Huskies, with 12 points of his own as well as four second-half assists for his teammates.

“He was just anxious [in the first half] instead of letting the game come to him,” Coen said. “He was trying to take over the game in the early portion…As soon as he relaxed and let the game come to him—it’s funny how that works—his offense started flowing.”

Fellow freshman forward Coleman Stucke added a career-high 15 points for the Huskies along with five rebounds and two steals in his 27 minutes. Freshmen have played a large role in the Huskies’ efforts this season, as Telfort is second in terms of points per game and Stucke is fifth on that list.

“The freshman class has done a really nice job,” Coen said. “That doesn’t always happen for freshmen. We have a couple guys that are a little ahead of the curve in terms of game experience…Jahmyl [Telfort] with his background and Coleman [Stucke] with his background and their seasoning, they’re gonna be really good. And I think [guard] J’Vonne [Hadley] has upside as does [forward] Alex [Nwagha].”

During their non-conference slate, the Huskies turned the ball over at a clip of 16.8 per game. Against Elon, however, they were in much better shape, only coughing it up 10 times.

“It was a better day overall,” Coen said. “We still had some ones early, I know [redshirt junior forward] Greg [Eboigbodin] had some early turnovers. It’s still an area of concern for me, we gotta be better at that, but much better job overall today I thought in terms of getting into offense and protecting the ball.”

Along with the scorers, the Huskies were buoyed by two redshirt juniors, forward Jason Strong and guard Shaquille Walters, who each had seven rebounds. The team dominated the paint and played with more physicality, winning the rebounding battle and also scoring 34 of their points in the paint. They attacked the hoop and shot 23 free throws compared to Elon’s 13 as well.

This was just the second win of the season for the Huskies after playing the 17th-toughest non-conference schedule in the country. Their competition, however, looks different for the rest of the year. Telfort said that he noticed that, “this team was smaller,” than the three Power Five teams they faced earlier in the season. 

“[The non-conference schedule] helps your athletes prepare for what they’re facing, what they’re gonna face in CAA play,” Coen said. “If you have the right guys in the locker room, they understand the process. And it’s something we keep preaching. That’s all part of it. It’s not where we are today, it’s where we’re going, where do we want to be at the end of the day.”

Bring out the brooms: Close encounter, but Huskies manage sweep of Elon

After a 19-4 run to start the game on 8-of-8 shooting, it looked like the Huskies would simply coast home to a victory over the Phoenix Sunday afternoon at the Cabot Center in Boston. 

Elon, however, had other plans.

The Phoenix got back into the game thanks to a six-minute Husky stretch without a field goal, cutting the lead to six before the Huskies extended it back to 18 with 3:17 left in the first half. Elon finished the half on an 8-0 run and cut the lead again, this time to 10 points. 

The back-and-forth affair continued in the second half as Elon trailed by just three with 4:36 to play, but Walker scored eight points in the final four minutes to preserve the Husky lead and ultimately win 66-58.

Walker finished with 17 points but also added five assists and five rebounds. He currently is the CAA assists leader, averaging 5.3 a game. Down the stretch, he had one instance where he made a shot, then on the next possession stole the ball and laid it in for an easy two. 

“He’s our go-to guy,” said head coach Bill Coen. “He knows it, our team knows it, our staff knows it and at that juncture in a game, he just has the ability to feel the game and make the appropriate play, whether it’s a pass, a shot or whatever.”

With 12 of his 17 points coming in the second half, crunch time was where Walker shone.

“But he knows it — he knows that he has to raise his level of game when it’s crunch time and he wants that,” Coen said. “A lot of guys have the ability but don’t have the mindset or the personality for it, but he’s got the confidence to be able to do that for us, and he’s really good at it. We’re gonna rely on him heavily and rightly so.”

Redshirt junior forward Jason Strong was another important contributor for the Huskies today, as he finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Strong also played the big man role for almost all of his 37 minutes, as redshirt junior forwards Chris Doherty and Greg Eboigbodin both missed the game entirely. Without those two big men, the Huskies went small, but it still paid off as they managed to score 28 points in the paint and only lost the rebound battle by six. 

“[Strong] gives you a jump shot mismatch against traditional post players,” Coen said. He added that Strong was more knowledgeable of Elon’s offense due to his scouting reports and that using him at the center position was more “brains over brawn.”

Only six Huskies saw the court for extended periods of time today, as only nine players were available for deployment, which could have led to tired legs at the end of the second game of a back-to-back, but they still prevailed.

“You want to put people in a position where they can experience some success,” Coen said. “Sometimes the guy who’s in the game, even though he may be a little bit tired, at the end of the game, he’s already in the flow of the game…I just felt like the guys that were in the game were doing a great job, we just needed to execute a little bit better and get a few more stops and luckily it worked out for us.”

Other players in double figures scoring were redshirt junior guard Shaquille Walters, who had 15 points and five rebounds, and freshman forward Jahmyl Telfort, who did a little bit of everything. He scored 10 points, but also added three rebounds, three assists and three steals in his first career start at the collegiate level. 

The defense held firm throughout the weekend, limiting Elon to just 110 points between the two games, and it was a large factor in the Sunday matchup. The Huskies forced 12 turnovers and held the Phoenix to 38.2% shooting on the day. 

“Ultimately, it was our defense that carried the day for us,” Coen said. “We had a hot start, we made winning plays down the stretch, and that’s a great omen for a really young club.”

The Huskies will play a home-and-home series against Hofstra, a rematch of last year’s CAA championship game, Jan. 7 in Hempstead, N.Y. before coming home to take on the Pride again Jan. 9 in Boston.