ELON, N.C. – Elon University women’s basketball had five players in double figures and two freshmen set career highs in an 84-61 victory over Towson on Friday, Jan. 19, in Alumni Gym.
“Basketball is bigger than just basketball,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “It’s about life skills. I think we’ve learned a lot through our downward slide, we talked about turning things around, I felt like we did that and hopefully we won’t look back from here after this one.”
Snapping a brief two-game losing streak, Elon now stands at 11-6 on the season and 3-3 in conference play. Towson dropped its second in a row and now stands at 7-11 overall and 2-5 in CAA action.
Though Towson hit a three-pointer to open the game, Elon answered with a 6-0 run that put the Phoenix up 63 seconds into the contest and it never looked back from there in the near wire-to-wire victory. Malaya Johnsonpowered the Phoenix in the opening minutes with six of the team’s 10 points on the way to the Phoenix taking a 19-9 advantage to the second quarter.
The Tigers opened the second with a 9-3 run that brought them back within four at 22-18 two minutes into the quarter. The Phoenix answered quickly with a 14-1 run behind seven points from Ra’Shika White, a three-pointer by Anna Popovic and layups by Johnson and Jada Graves. Leading 36-19 at the media timeout, Elon’s pace slowed but Towson couldn’t pick up ground as the Phoenix went to the break up 40-25.
Opening the third quarter with a 15-4 run that brought Towson within four at 44-40, Elon called timeout to end the run. Out of the stoppage, the Phoenix went on a 9-0 run with Johnson, Shay Burnett and Jaylin Powell all contributing to push the lead back to 13 at 53-40. From there, Towson only cut the advantage to single digits just once with 1:48 to go in the third, but a pair of and-one plays for Saadia Munford in the last two minutes extended Elon’s lead back to 61-48 through three quarters.
Down the stretch, Elon outscored the Tigers 23-13 in the fourth and ballooned the lead to as many as 24 on the way to the 84-61 victory. The Phoenix shot 53.3 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter to pull away for the win.
Elon had five players in double figures with Burnett’s 18 leading the way. She also finished with nine assists and seven rebounds in the win. Johnson finished with 16 points for the second consecutive game, hitting 8-of-10 from the floor. Munford set a new career high with 15 points and Popovic added a career-best 12 points on 5-of-6 from the field.
Towson had four players in double figures. It was led by 12 points from Mary Cuevas and Danielle Durjan. Both Raine Bankston and Etalyia Vogt added 10 points. Nukiya Mayo added a team-high nine rebounds and Durjan had eight.
-Elon avoided its first three-game losing streak in conference play since the 2015-16 season when it lost to James Madison, Towson and Drexel on Jan. 10, Jan. 15 and Jan. 17, 2016.
-Johnson has now scored 16 points in each of the last two games after not reaching double figures in any of Elon’s first four CAA contests. She now has 988 career points and is 12 away from becoming the 24th member of the program’s 1,000-point club.
-Elon finished with a 26-9 advantage in points off turnovers. In all, the Tigers turned it over 23 times to Elon’s 12.
-After allowing each of its last five opponents to shoot at least 39.3 percent from the floor, Elon held Towson to just 33.9 percent on 19-of-56 shooting. In contrast, the Phoenix hit 46.2 percent from the floor in making 30-of-65.
-Towson outrebounded Elon 45-35. It marks the largest negative rebounding margin of the season for the Phoenix.
-Popovic started each of Elon’s first six games before transitioning to a bench role. Before Friday night, her career high was five points against Coker on Nov. 27.
Elon will remain home Sunday afternoon, Jan. 21, for a 1 p.m. contest in Alumni Gym against Delaware. The game is a rematch of the Jan. 5 contest in Newark when the Blue Hens topped Elon 80-66.