ELON, N.C. – Lexi Mercer scored a career-high 13 points and hit a trio of second-half three-pointers to help Elon University women’s basketball to a 78-71 victory Sunday afternoon, Jan. 7, over Northeastern inside Alumni Gym.
“We’re excited to have pulled out this game,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “This was an exciting basketball game, a competitive basketball game and a great basketball game for our fans. We came back after the Delaware loss, talked about who we are as a team and our identity and we came out today and competed for 40 minutes and got back to the basics of defending and rebounding.”
The win gives Elon its 10th of the season with its record now 10-4 overall and 2-1 in CAA play. Northeastern’s overall mark dropped below .500 to 7-8 and 2-2 in conference play.
Though Elon led by four at halftime, Northeastern outscored the Phoenix 28-22 in the third quarter to take a 56-54 lead to the final 10 minutes. In the first 8:29 of the third quarter, 10 of Elon’s 16 points came at the free throw line with the Phoenix scoring nine-straight at the charity stripe over a span of 6:05 of game action. But in the final 63 seconds, Mercer hit a three-pointer in front of the Elon bench and Shay Burnett knocked down a triple from the left wing to jumpstart the Phoenix with a 54-53 lead, even though Jess Genco hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to put Northeastern up two after three.
Opening the fourth, Malaya Johnson hit the only bucket in the first four minutes to tie the game at 56. Mercer then broke the scoreless drought by nailing back-to-back three-pointers in front of the Phoenix bench in a span of 29 seconds to put the Phoenix up four at 62-58 with 5:06 to play. Leading by one after a 5-2 Husky run, two Meme Garner free throws with 3:54 to go started an 11-3 Phoenix run to take control of the contest on the way to the seven-point win.
To open the afternoon, Jada Graves scored each of Elon’s first five points with a layup and a three-pointer in her second-career start. Over the course of the quarter, the two teams went back and forth with the Phoenix and Huskies even at 15-all after 10 minutes. Northeastern went on a 6-2 run to lead 14-12 with 2:14 left, but Graves hit Ra’Shika White down low for an easy transition bucket to tie the game with 1:43 left in the frame.
All square to start the second quarter, Elon went up by three at 21-18 with a two layups by Jada Graves and two Jaylin Powell free throws. But Northeastern pulled its way back with a 5-2 run with a Genco jumper and a Claudia Ortiz three-pointer that tied the contest at 23 with 4:51 to go before half. Out of the media timeout, Elon used layups by Garner and Mercer, a three-pointer by Garner and a jumper from Johnson to go on a 9-0 run to lead 32-23, but the Huskies closed the final 94 seconds of the half with a another Genco jumper and another Ortiz triple to cut the gap to the halftime margin of four.
White led Elon with a team-high in both points with 15 and rebounds with eight. Mercer tallied a career-best 13 points to go with two assists, two steals and two rebounds. White and Mercer were the only two Phoenix in double figures with both Garner and Graves adding nine points and Powell and Saadia Munford pitching in eight. Burnett tallied seven points to go with eight rebounds and five assists while Munford also added five assists.
Ortiz scored a game-high 31 points on 10-of-20 from the floor. She hit seven of her 12 attempted three-pointers while pulling down five rebounds to go with three steals. Shannon Todd scored 12 points and Genco finished with 11 to go with a team-high seven assists and five steals while playing all 40 minutes. Loren Lassiter pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
-Elon is now 10-1 this year when leading at halftime.
-The Phoenix is now 6-1 all-time against Northeastern the average margin of victory in the series increased from 5.8 points to 6.1 points. Each of Elon’s last three wins are the largest margin of victory in the series history.
-Both teams hit 72 percent of its free throws, but Elon made good on its ability to get to the free throw line by sinking 24-of-33 free throws while Northeastern only went to the line 18 times and hit 13 of its attempts.
-With four points on the afternoon, Johnson is now 50 points away from 1,000 in her career. The senior has scored 950 points in 111 games in maroon and gold.
-Ortiz became the first player to reach 30 points against Elon since James Madison’s Precious Hall notched 32 against the Phoenix in the CAA title game on March 11, 2017.
Set for a weekend in Virginia, Elon will head to James Madison on Friday, Jan. 12, for a 7 p.m. matchup with the Dukes inside the JMU Convocation Center. The Phoenix will then close the weekend at William & Mary on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 2 p.m. in Williamsburg, Va.