ELON, N.C. – Elon University women’s basketball raced out to an early lead and never took a foot off the gas pedal in claiming its largest Division I conference victory Sunday afternoon, Feb. 11, with a 97-44 win over College of Charleston in Alumni Gym on Play4Kay Day.
“I’m very proud of the well-balanced game we played with a lot of energy and focus,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “Defensively, we continue to get better and better every game and that’s what we want is to progress. I felt like down the stretch we wanted to work on our offense and try to execute and I’m proud of the way we started and the way we finished.”
The Phoenix has now won each of its last five and seven of the last eight games, improving to 17-7 overall and 9-4 in CAA action. College of Charleston dropped to 6-19 overall and 2-12 in conference play. It has now lost nine of its last 10.
Elon’s 53-point victory topped the previous largest conference win of 34 points when Elon beat UNCW 83-48 on March 1, 2017. Over the course of the last two seasons, Elon has won seven games against conference opponents by at least 27 points with all seven checking in among the Top 10 for largest Division I conference wins to date. While Elon has posted larger wins overall in its Division I history, Sunday’s 53-point triumph is the second largest against a Division I opponent with the 61-point, 98-37 win over Winthrop earlier this season on Nov. 10 the biggest to date against a Division I program.
Though Charleston opened with a 5-2 lead, Elon immediately answered with a 21-2 run to close the final 7:46 of the opening frame and took a 23-7 lead to the second. The run included four three-pointers – two from Lexi Mercer and one apiece from Shay Burnett and Ariel Colon. It started as a 15-0 run before Tanisha Brown broke Charleston’s seven-minute drought from the floor in which it went 0-for-14. In all, the Phoenix went 9-for-15 from the field for 60 percent in the opening 10 minutes while Charleston managed 3-of-20 for 15 percent.
Like the first quarter, CofC started the second quarter on a 5-2 run before Elon answered with a 21-0 streak that started with a Jaylin Powell three-pointer. Though Elon’s defense held the Cougars to 4-of-14 for 28.6 percent in the second 10 minutes, the Phoenix forced seven turnovers after creating just one in the first quarter. Leading 46-16 at the break, the 30-point advantage marks the largest through 20 minutes in a game this season, topping the 29-point leads Nov. 10 against Winthrop and Nov. 13 at North Carolina A&T.
Extending its lead from 30 to 42 throughout the third quarter, Elon went on a pair of lengthy runs with an 11-0 run in the first five minutes and a 10-0 run in a span of 1:29 late in the frame. Though Charleston broke the second scoreless run with a free throw, Ra’Shika White put home a layup with six seconds left to help Elon close the quarter on a 12-1 run to lead 73-31 after 30 minutes.
Down the stretch, Elon continued its dominance in the fourth by opening on a 10-2 run to give the Phoenix a 22-3 run between the last 2:09 of the third quarter and the first 2:56 of the fourth. While Charleston settled in a bit and shot 31.3 percent in the fourth, the Phoenix still closed the game on an 8-0 run in the final three minutes to complete the 53-point win.
Elon had five players in double figures, marking the third time in 2017-18 it has had at least five players in double figures in a game. Both Powell and Burnett led the way with 15 points apiece while White posted 13 and Mercer and Malaya Johnson 10. Burnett shot 6-of-7 from the floor while also dishing out seven assists. Powell knocked down 5-of-6 and went 2-for-3 from long distance while coming down with three rebounds and handing out two assists. Johnson rejected a season-high four shots and White had two blocks.
Deja Ford finished with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and Shiclasia Brown posted 12 points. She went 5-for-23 from the floor, which checks in tied for the fifth-most attempted shots in a game in Charleston’s Division I history.
-Now 11-0 at home in 2017-18, Elon has won 16 in a row overall in Alumni Gym going back to Feb. 3, 2017.
-The Phoenix is now alone in third place in the CAA standings at 9-4. James Madison is at the top at 12-1 and Drexel stands second at 11-2. Though Elon has a game in hand, Delaware is fourth with an 8-4 mark and William & Mary and Northeastern are tied for fifth at 7-6. With five games to play, one win would guarantee Elon at least a Top 6 finish and a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament with seventh-place Hofstra and Towson both at 4-9 in conference play.
-Elon outrebounded Charleston 54-34, giving the Phoenix a 101-62 (+39) rebounding margin for the weekend against the Cougars and Drexel.
-The 15 points for Powell topped her previous career high of 13 against North Carolina A&T.
-Elon has now won seven of its last eight and is averaging 71.1 points per game while allowing just 51.9 points per contest during the run.
-In the last four games, Elon has held all four opponents to less than 17 percent shooting in a quarter. The Phoenix held Charleston to 15.4 percent in the second quarter on Feb. 2, held James Madison to 15.4 percent in the fourth quarter on Feb. 4, held Drexel to 16.7 percent in the first quarter on Feb. 9 and held Charleston to 15.0 percent in the first quarter on Sunday.
-Elon limited Charleston to just 20.6 percent from the floor in the first half, which is the third-lowest by a Phoenix opponent this season. Charleston’s 25.8 percent for the game is the third-lowest for an Elon opponent this season, too.
With a three-game homestand in the books, Elon will head north for a trip to New York and Massachusetts to take on Hofstra and Northeastern. First, Elon will meet Hofstra on Friday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. in Hempstead before battling Northeastern on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m. in Boston.