Elon WBB Phoenix Welcomes Former Conference Opponent Furman Monday – TIP OFF 7 PM – UPDATED

Posted by Press Release on December 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm under College | Comments are off for this article

ELON, N.C. – After a break for the holiday, the Elon women’s basketball team (5-4) returns to Alumni Gym for the first time in over two weeks to host former Southern Conference foe Furman (9-4) on Monday, Dec. 29. Tip is set for 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the Elon Ticket Office. Admission is $10 for courtside seats, $5 for reserved seats and $3 for youth (12 and under).

Last Time Out
Trailing by as much as 18 in the first half, the Phoenix closed out the frame on a 29-6 run to cut its deficit to only three, 46-43, at the break against No. 6 North Carolina. Elon was not able to keep the momentum going in the second half and fell to the Tar Heels, 85-67. The Phoenix was led by 16 points from Sam Coffer, who went 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-6 from three. Despite the loss, Elon shot 47 percent from the field and hit seven threes for a 33 percent mark from beyond the arc and saw 28 points from its bench. Lauren Brown provided that spark off the bench with a season-high 15 points, while Malaya Johnson scored 10 points.

Scouting the Paladins
Furman returns from the holiday break after a narrow defeat at Georgia, 58-51, on Dec. 20. The Paladins are 9-4 on the season with its only losses coming at the hands of Clemson, Florida State, Washington and UGA. The team has nearly four players averaging in double figures with Brittany Hodges (13.8 points/9.7 rebounds) just shy of averaging a double-double. Whitney Bunn (12.8 points), Holli Wilkins (11.2 points) and Sarah Durdaller (9.9 points) round out the Paladin attack. Durdaller recorded a double-double against the Dawgs with 19 points and 11 boards, while Bunn finished with seven assists and ranks sixth nationally with seven assists/game.

The Series
Games against the Paladins date all the way back to 1973 but became consistent while Elon was still a member of the SoCon. Elon holds a slight 13-11 advantage in the series but Furman has won the last three meetings, including a 71-66 victory in Alumni Gym towards the end of last season. The Phoenix last won over the Paladins on Jan. 18, 2013, 79-69, on its home court.

Well-Deserved Honors
On. Dec. 22, freshman Malaya Johnson capped the best week of her young career with a well-deserved CAA Rookie of the Week honor. The rookie averaged 16 points in two games for the Phoenix the previous week and went 14-of-17 from the field to shoot 82 percent and shot 57 percent from the charity stripe. She also hauled down eight rebounds, four boards per game, and handed out three assists. Johnson had the best game of her young career in the team’s 77-51 win at Campbell on Dec. 17 with a career-high 22 points off a career-high 10-of-12 performance from the field and went 2-of-3 from the line. She also had six rebounds and three assists, both career highs, against the Camels. Her 22 points marked the first 20+-point game for a Phoenix player on the season. Against No. 6 North Carolina, she went 4-of-5 in the game and finished with 10 points and two rebounds. The Mount Airy, N.C., native currently leads the league with a 55.6 field-goal percentage.

Block Party
Elon posted a season-high 11 blocks in its game at NC State on Dec. 7. That mark tied a team-high mark under head coach Charlotte Smith. The only other time the Phoenix has recorded 11 blocks in a game in the last four years was at Georgia Southern on Jan. 13, 2014. Elon currently ranks first in the conference and 46th nationally with 4.8 blocked shots/game. Sam Coffer is third in the league in blocks with 1.6 per game, while Jenifer Rhodes (1.0) ranks ninth

On the Defensive
The Phoenix defense has played strong so far this season and ranks in the top of several CAA defensive categories. Elon is first in blocked shots (4.8/game), fifth in field goal defense (38.7 percent), second in three-point field goal defense (26.7 percent) and fifth in defensive rebounds (26.2/game).

The Century Mark
On Dec. 21, Sam Coffer played her 100th game in a Phoenix uniform. The senior has earned the start in 94 of those games. Teammate Zora Stephenson is closing in on the same milestone with 96 games played since her freshman season.

Beyond the Arc
The Phoenix is shooting 34 percent from the three-point line and is fourth in the league in the long-distance shooting category. The team is second in three-point defense with opponents only shooting 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. Three Elon players currently rank in the top 15 in the conference in three-point field goal percentage. Lauren Brown ranks second (48 percent), Zora Stephenson is ninth (36 percent) and Sam Coffer is 12th (33 percent).

From the Field
Elon is second in the CAA in field-goal percentage and fifth in field-goal percentage defense. The Phoenix owns a 41.8 shooting percentage eight games into the season, while holding opponents to 39 percent. Malaya Johnson leads the league with her 55.6 shooting percentage, while Shay Burnett (52 percent) and Jenifer Rhodes (50 percent) rank fifth and sixth, respectively.

Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fourth season with the Phoenix and owns a 55-48 career record. Smith led Elon to its second straight Southern Conference Tournament semifinal appearance and a 10-8 overall conference record last season.

Looking Ahead
Elon closes out 2014 with an afternoon game on Wednesday, Dec. 31, against Lenoir-Rhyne. Tip against the Bears is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Alumni Gym.


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