ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team (17-12, 14-6) embarks on its quest for postseason play with the 2013 Southern Conference Tournament in Asheville, N.C. The third-seeded Phoenix will play the winner of the Samford/Wofford game on Saturday, March 9, at 6:45 p.m. in Kimmel Arena on the campus of UNC Asheville.
Saturday, March 9
#3 Elon vs. #6 Samford (14-15, 11-9)/#11 Wofford (8-20, 3-17)
Site: Asheville, N.C. (Kimmel Arena)
Series vs. Samford: Samford leads, 8-4
Last Meeting vs. Samford: Feb. 11, 2013 – Samford won, 65-59
Series vs. Wofford: Elon leads, 13-8
Last Meeting vs. Wofford: Feb. 20, 2013 – Elon won, 62-58
Radio: WSOE 89.3 FM –Ryan Balick and Matt Krause will have the call
Elon vs. Samford
Saturday’s game could be the 13th meeting between the Phoenix and the reigning tournament champion Bulldogs. The teams split this season’s series with each program winning on its own court. Elon claimed a 65-41 win on Jan. 7 in Alumni Gym led by 15 points from Kelsey Harris. On Feb. 11, the Bulldogs responded with a 65-59 win in Birmingham. Despite the loss, Kelsey Evans still scored 21 points and the senior is averaging 16.5 points per game against the Bulldogs this season. Elon and Samford have met twice in the tournament, including a game last year in which the Bulldogs claimed a 67-36 win.
Elon vs. Wofford
If the Terriers meet the Phoenix on Saturday, it will be the 21st game between the two programs. Elon won both meetings this season with a 67-57 win in Spartanburg and a 62-58 victory in Alumni Gym. Three Phoenix players are averaging in double figures against Wofford this year – Kelsey Evans (16.5 ppg), Kelsey Harris (14.0 ppg) and Ali Ford (10.5 ppg). The maroon and gold has only played the Terriers once before in the tournament with Elon winning 67-53 on March 4, 2010.
Elon in the SoCon Tournament
Elon has a 5-9 record all-time in the SoCon Tournament. The three seed the Phoenix earned this year is the highest seed the program has earned in its SoCon history. Last year, the fifth-seeded Phoenix fell in its opening game of the tournament to the eventual champion Samford.
Going Into Tournament Play
Having won five of its last six games, the Phoenix enters the SoCon Tournament on fire with victories in its last three contests. Two of Elon’s last three wins were over two of the tournament’s top-four teams.
Ali Ford and Kelsey Evans both earned all-league honors in the media and coaches’ polls, the Southern Conference announced on March 6. Ford was an all-league pick by the coaches and a first team selection by the media. She is now only the fifth player in SoCon history to be named all-conference four times. Evans was an all-conference selection by the coaches and a second team pick by the media. This marks the first time she has earned post-season honors from the coaches, while it’s her third overall selection by the media.
Last Four Games
Elon has won three straight and is averaging 73.5 points per game with a 10.3 margin of victory in its last four contests. Kelsey Evans has been unstoppable, posting 19.5 points and 2.3 blocks per game along with a shooting percentage of 68.6. Ali Ford has also averaged in double figures in the last four games with 16.5 points per game and 4.3 assists/game. From long distance, Zora Stephenson has connected on 9-of-16 threes for a 56.3 shooting mark.
Career-Highs Earn SoCon Honor
Kelsey Evans was named the Southern Conference Player of the Week on March 5 for her performance in Elon’s final two regular-season games against Davidson and Georgia Southern. The senior averaged 21.5 points and shot 74 percent after connecting on 20-of-27 baskets. Evans recorded a career-high 31 points at GSU with another career high of 14 field goals (14-of-17). It marked an individual season high for the Phoenix and was the most points by an Elon player since March 17, 2011. The Raleigh, N.C., native also scored 12 points against Davidson, while posting 10 rebounds and five blocks (2.5/game) that week.
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith knows a little something about winning championships. While playing collegiately at North Carolina, Smith hit a buzzer-beating three pointer to earn the Tar Heels the 1994 NCAA national championship. She also led UNC to back-to-back conference crowns her junior and senior seasons.
Ali Ford is closing in on becoming only the second player in program history to reach the 2,000-career point mark. The senior has 1,966 points entering the SoCon Tournament, which is 34 points shy of reaching the historic milestone.
On the Glass
Kelsey Evans’ 21 rebounds against Chattanooga on Jan. 7 was the second-best single game mark in program history (two shy of Venessa Corbet’s 1979 record) and ranks as the 14th best single-game performance in DI play this season. The senior has 978 career boards entering the tournament. If she can reach the 1,000-rebound mark, she’ll become on the third player in program history to have 1,000 points and rebounds.
If Elon wins its first game of the tournament, the Phoenix will go on to play the winner of the Davidson vs. Furman/UNCG game on Sunday, March 10, at 2:30 p.m. in the U.S. Cellular Center. That game will air on ESPN3.