Cougars top Elon in men’s SoCon opener

In the absence of Trent Wiedeman due to injury, Willis Hall as taken advantage of his increased role on the team accounting for 19 points and 12 rebounds to earn his third career double-double and pace the Cougars to a 56-54 road win over Elon on Saturday night.

“He’s a guy who is a winner,” head coach Doug Wojcik said of Hall. “He gives Adjehi (Baru) and Nori Johnson courage. I always say this:, ‘Who do you want to lose with?’ If you lose tonight’s game and have to be on the bus for five hours back, who do you want to ride the bus home with? I’d take Willis Hall any day of the week.”

The Cougars began the night plagued by turnovers, which allowed Elon to jump out to any early 14-6 lead. As the Cougars settled in however, they were able to climb back and take their first lead of the game, off an Anthony Stitt layup, at 18-17 near midway through the first half.

Elon regrouped from losing its lead and retook the lead briefly before Hall made his presence felt. He scored four of the team’s last seven points of the half, giving the Cougars a 29-24 halftime lead.

In the second half, the Cougars extended their lead to as much as nine, but turnovers slowed the Cougars’ attack and the Phoenix were able to knot things up at 52 a piece with just under three minutes left in regulation.

A pair of clutch plays by a few of the Cougars starters helped them seal the close victory on the road. Adjehi Baru’s dunk with 1:30 to go and free throws from Andrew Lawrence and Anthony Stitt secured the victory.

The Cougars, (5-2, 1-0 SoCon) are now riding a four-game winning streak, highlighted by a win over No. 21 Baylor. The Cougars will have another change to knock off one of the nation’s elite as they return home to take on No. 5 Louisville on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Tip off against the Cardinals is schedule for 9 p.m.

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