ELON, N.C. – The Elon University women’s basketball team returns to Alumni Gym on Saturday, Dec. 3, for its Southern Conference opener versus preseason league favorite Chattanooga. Tip is set for 7 p.m. as the team looks to “Pack the House” and break the program’s single-game attendance record set last season.
THE SERIES: The Phoenix and Lady Mocs will be meeting for the 18th time on Saturday. Chattanooga leads the all-time series 15-2, but the two squads have split the last two regular-season meetings. The Phoenix topped the Lady Mocs 74-61 last season in Chattanooga – Elon’s first-ever win at UTC. The Lady Mocs responded with a 73-63 win over Elon on Feb. 21 last season in Alumni Gym to split the season series. The two teams meet again on Jan. 30 at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga.
PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATIONS: Elon was picked third in the 2011-12 Southern Conference Preseason Coaches Poll earlier this season, while the Lady Mocs earned the honor of preseason favorites after receiving nine (out of 11) first-place votes.
LOOKING AHEAD: Elon welcomes the defending Southern Conference champions to Alumni Gym on Monday night, Dec. 5, as Samford comes to campus for a 7 p.m. tip. The Phoenix and Bulldogs split the season series last year. All fans in attendance for Saturday’s game against Chattanooga receive a FREE dinner at Monday’s game versus Samford.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: The Lady Mocs currently own a 3-3 record heading into Saturday’s game. Chattanooga has posted wins against UAB, Indiana State, and UNCG while dropping games to Idaho State, Cincinnati and top-ranked Baylor. The Lady Mocs topped the UNCG Spartans, 63-46, in the Southern Conference opener for both squads on Thursday night. UTC is led by head coach Wes Moore, who is in his 14th season.
FORD TRACKER: Ali Ford is swiftly moving up Elon’s all-time scoring chart, as the Morganton, N.C., native currently ranks 11th in program history with 1,156 career points. Ford needs 17 points to pass Barbara Johnson for 10th on the all-time scoring list. Ford enters this week as Elon’s leading scorer at 18.6 points per game, good for 57th in the nation. As of Monday, Ford ranked 23rd in the nation in three-point field goals per game at 3.0.
FROM LONG DISTANCE: Zora Stephenson went into this week ranked sixth in the country in three-point field goal percentage, as the Vienna, Va., native is shooting at a 56.5 percent clip (13-for-23) so far this season. Stephenson knocked down eight shots from beyond the arc on Nov. 18 against Virginia Intermont, which tied Tierra Bumbrey for the third-most in a single game in program history. Stephenson ranks second in the nation among freshmen in three-point field goal percentage, trailing only Missouri’s Morgan Eye.
CLOSING IN ON 100: Aiesha Harper enters Saturday’s game having played in more games (93) than anyone on Elon’s current roster. The next closest player on Elon’s roster in games played is senior Erica Keto (77 games played).
BEYOND THE ARC: Ali Ford’s 191 career three-point field goals made ranks second all-time in program history. As of Monday, Ford ranked 23rd in the nation in three-point field goals per game at 3.0. Loretta Lawson holds the all-time record with 234 three-point field goals.
OVER THE CENTURY MARK: Elon registered 105 points against Virginia Intermont on Nov. 18, the most in a single game since the team claimed a 111-50 win over Averett on Dec. 1, 1999. The last time Elon scored 100 points in a game was in last year’s Women’s Basketball Invitational when the Phoenix topped USC Upstate, 103-72. Elon has scored 100 or more points in a game 17 times since the 1971-72 season.
THE SMITH FILE: Elon first-year head coach Charlotte Smith enters Saturday’s game with a 2-3 career record. Elon’s 70-46 win over Virginia Union on Nov. 12 was Smith’s first career win. Smith was an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina for nine seasons before coming to Elon. She was also a four-year letterwinner for the Tar Heels from 1992-95 and is one of only two UNC women’s basketball players to have had her jersey retired. Smith was named National Player of the Year by ESPN in 1995 following a career in which she scored 2,094 points (fifth all-time at UNC) and grabbed 1,200 rebounds (second all-time at UNC). Smith is perhaps best known for her performance in the 1994 NCAA Championship game, when her buzzer-beating three-pointer gave UNC the national crown with a 60-59 win over Louisiana Tech. She also had a championship-record 23 rebounds in the game and was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.