HARRISONBURG, Va. – The Elon University women’s basketball team kept two feet on the gas pedal from start to finish in the CAA Women’s Basketball Championship semifinals, as the top-seeded Phoenix downed fourth-seeded William & Mary, 88-60, to advance to the CAA title game tomorrow night.
With the win, Elon improves to 26-6 and will face the winner of second-seeded James Madison and third-seeded Drexel tomorrow night at 7 p.m. It marks Elon’s first trip to a conference title game since 2000-01 when the team made it to the Big South Conference finals.
“We talked today about the thing that have gotten us here so far and that’s defensive rebounding,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I want to commend the team for coming out and focusing on the defensive plan. I’m extremely proud of the fact offensively we’ve bought into sharing the basketball and making sure everybody gets a chance to shine on offense and we did that today. The beauty of this team is the balance and I’m extremely proud of the effort today.”
Elon shot a season-best 56.5 from the floor in the victory, its highest field goal percentage in a tournament game in program history. The 28-point margin of victory ties yesterday’s win as the largest in a conference tournament game in team history.
Lauren Brown was stellar for the Phoenix in the win, going for a game-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor in 27 minutes of action. Shay Burnett was just behind Brown in the scoring column, as the junior guard ended the game with 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting. The twin-tower duo inside of Malaya Johnson and Jenifer Rhodes had an impressive performance for the Phoenix, finishing the game with 15 and 12, respectively. Johnson and Rhodes helped Elon win the battle on the boards, 42-22.
Brown was nearly perfect from the floor in the game’s first 20 minutes, scoring 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field to put her squad ahead, 42-32, at the half.
Elon led by as many as 16 points in the opening frame, but the Tribe managed to limit the damage to 10 going into the locker room at intermission.
Elon took what at the time was its largest lead of the game with 5:51 to play in the third quarter after Lenaira Ruffin went up and under for the layup to give Elon a 52-35 advantage. The Phoenix eventually increased its lead to 32 in the fourth quarter, keeping the Tribe at arm’s length by outscoring William & Mary 46-28 in the second half to advance to tomorrow night’s title game.