UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – The fourth-seeded Elon women’s basketball team led for 22 minutes in the game but was unable in the end to knock off top-seeded James Madison, falling 63-60 in the CAA Women’s Basketball Championship semifinals today, March 14, in The Show Place Arena.
A free throw by JMU’s Toia Giggetts gave the Dukes the three-point lead with 27 seconds remaining, allowing Elon a chance to tie the game. The Phoenix was unable to hit two good opportunities from beyond the arc and was forced to foul with 10 seconds left in the game. The Dukes missed all four of its chances from the free throw line in the final seconds but managed to grab the offensive rebounds to keep the ball in hand.
“I’m very proud how the team came out and competed today,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I felt like we played with a lot of passion, fire and heart. I’m proud of the way the team executed the game plan. It was about defense and rebounding and I felt like we did a good job on the boards and defending the entire game.”
Elon (19-12) finished 21-of-63 from the field to shoot 33 percent on the day, and scored 32 points in the paint, but was held to a 2-of-10 mark from long distance (20 percent). The Phoenix hit 16-of-19 attempts from the charity stripe for an 84 percent mark. The two teams finished even on the glass with 41 rebounds each.
Burnett was the leading scorer for the Phoenix with 18 points after an 8-of-9 day from the line. Jenifer Rhodes also finished in double figures with 13 points. Josepha Mbouma led the team on the boards with eight rebounds, while Malaya Johnson recorded three blocks.
JMU (28-3) shot 37 percent from the field after going 22-of-60 with only a 3-of-13 mark from three (23 percent). The Dukes went 16-of-23 from the free throw line to shoot 70 percent and claimed a 17-9 advantage in second-chance points. CAA Player of the Year Precious Hall led JMU and all players with 19 points, while Lauren Okafor posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Elon took a six-point advantage, 10-4, in the first five minutes before the Dukes cut its deficit to one, 10-9. The Phoenix then answered with four points by Malaya Johnson to return to five-point lead, 14-9. JMU would pull within one twice more with the maroon and gold answering each time.
At the 10:14 mark, the Dukes used a three by Hailee Barron to take its first lead of the game, 18-16. A steal and fast-break layup by Burnett put the Phoenix back in front, 22-21, before a three by Essence Baucom with 5:47 left in the half returned Elon to a six-point edge, 29-23. A pair of free throws by Burnett with under two minutes remaining kept it a maroon and gold lead, 35-29. JMU’s Hall hit a three with 76 seconds left to give Elon a 35-32 advantage at the break.
Elon shot 38 percent from the field and 33 percent from three in the opening frame, while going 9-of-11 for an 82 percent mark from the free throw line. The Phoenix forced 10 JMU turnovers, scoring 12 points off those miscues. The Dukes went 37 percent from the field, 30 percent from long distance, and converted all three of its chances from the charity stripe, while also taking the edge on the boards, 23-17.
JMU started the second half with an 11-4 advantage to take a four-point edge, 43-39, at the 13:16 mark. A layup by Johnson with 12:45 on the clock broke the scoring drought for the Phoenix before a basket by Shannen Cochraham evened the game for the third time, 43-43, with 10:49 remaining.
With the score tied at 45-all, the Dukes scored the next six points to take its biggest lead of the game, 51-46. A layup by Lauren Brown with 4:41 on the clock pulled the maroon and gold back within one, 51-50. Elon was able to come within two of the Dukes a few times but JMU kept answering to maintain a four-point advantage.
With 59 seconds remaining, a layup by Burnett made it a two-point deficit for the Phoenix, 62-60. The Dukes missed a basket at the other end as the Phoenix grabbed the defensive rebound, giving Elon the ball with 46 seconds left. A shot by Burnett didn’t fall as JMU’s Giggetts was fouled on the rebound, sending her to the line to score the game’s final point.