NEW HAVEN – It was just a simple shot in the paint for New Haven senior Steve McElvene. One he has hit many times before, but this one decided not to go in as the final buzzer sounded.
It didn’t have anything to do with the outcome, though, as the Bulldogs posted a 52-40 win over visiting Northrop on Tuesday. But it was McElvene’s only miss as the Dayton recruit posted a 18-point, 10-rebound, three-block effort in New Haven’s season opener.
McElvene finished 9 of 10 from the field and seemed unfazed by the lone miss.
It wasn’t just me going out there going 9 for 9 (before the miss), McElvene said. I thank my guys.
Northrop (1-1) cut a double-digit third-quarter deficit to 47-40 with two minutes left, but New Haven (1-0) scored the final five points to close the door.
We were speeding things up, and we learned that when we slow down we can go through a couple of plays and get some open shots, McElvene said.
The 7-foot, 250-pound McElvene had a couple of early blocks and that seemed to announce his presence to the Bruins.
They set the tone in the first half with Steve blocking some shots, and that kind of put us back on our heels, Northrop coach Barak Coolman said. We were kind of shell-shocked. We stopped attacking because of the size inside and got away from our game plan there. But they regrouped, and I was proud they showed some heart and got it down to a single-digit game. It was a good learning experience for us, and you can’t simulate that in practice.
We saw the big blocks, and we kind of lost our focus. He takes up a lot of space, and he is able to get off the ground and block shots. It just affects everything.
Also for the Bulldogs, Jordan Hogue added 13 points and then made a commitment after the game to play football at Ball State. Lowell Griggs had 11 points.
New Haven led 23-18 at halftime but extended the margin to 45-27 entering the fourth with a 22-9 third-quarter advantage. Northrop, though, outscored New Haven 13-2 to open the final quarter to get within single digits.
The Bulldogs had five turnovers in the fourth.
We played great defense and rebounded the ball good, but we didn’t play smart enough on offense, New Haven coach Al Gooden said. I told our guards we have to run our offense and run it through (McElvene) and get it to our big guy so we can score. We try to play inside-out.
The Bruins got 14 points each from Jacoby Claypool and Enis Becirevic. Without the (Brenton and Bryson) Scott twins this year, Northrop will look different.
We totally changed our offense, and we got away from the offense today we put in because of the clogging up, Coolman said of changes this year. But we definitely want to get the ball in the basket area. We went from attacking the basket, and we stopped doing that after it wasn’t working and settled for contested jump shots. That’s not our strength, and when we do that we will get beat most nights.