SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Ali Ford’s Christmas gift arrived six days early today, Dec. 19, in Benjamin Johnson Arena, as the junior from Morganton, N.C., tied a career-high with seven three-pointers to lift the Elon women’s basketball team to a 74-68 victory over the Wofford Terriers.
Ford finished with a game-high 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, including a 7-of-10 clip from beyond the arc, to help push the Phoenix past the Terriers. The last time Ford hit seven three-pointers in a game was in last year’s Women’s Basketball Invitational win over USC Upstate.
In a game that saw 19 lead changes, Ford iced the game late with seven points in the final 2:50 of the contest to break a 62-all tie and put Elon ahead by a comfortable margin.
Elon improves to 5-5 on the year and 2-2 in the Southern Conference with the win, while Wofford falls to 7-4 (1-2 SoCon) with the setback.
“Today was not pretty, but I would much rather have a tough and ugly win than a pretty loss,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “Ali Ford and Aiesha Harper came up big for us today. Aiesha took over the game at the end of the first half to bring us back and Ali came up with key shots for us late to help ice the win.
Overall, we defended much better today than we did in our last game against Furman and we were able to knock down shots with more consistency. We played with a lot of passion and energy today and I’m excited for our team to get the win.”
Perhaps just as key as Ford’s ability to knock down shots from beyond the arc was Aiesha Harper’s ability to bring the Phoenix back from a double-digit deficit late in the first half. Harper helped the Phoenix come back from 10 down by scoring or assisting on every basket over a 12-0 run to give Elon a 40-38 lead toward the end of the first half. Harper finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the win.
Kelsey Evans was the third Phoenix player to finish in double figures in the win, as the junior from Raleigh, N.C., scored 11 points, which included her second-career three-point field goal. Evans also registered five boards and two blocks for Elon.
Elon shot 92 percent (11-of-12) from the charity stripe in the win, while shooting at a 41-percent clip from the field on 26-of-63 field goal attempts.
The Phoenix lived up to its moniker of being the Southern Conference’s top three-point shooting team after knocking down 11-of-20 shots from beyond the arc against the league’s top three-point defense. Today was the fourth time this season Elon has connected on 10 or more three-point field goals in a game.
The maroon and gold won the battle on the boards, 44-35, despite allowing the Terriers to 20 second-chance points and 34 points in the paint.
Wofford’s Rachel Brittenham scored 22 points, but managed only six second-half points after a 16-point opening frame.
After the Terriers jumped out to a five-point lead at the start of the second half to make it a 45-40 game, Elon answered with a 10-2 run to claim a three-point lead, 50-47, with 14:25 to play.
With the score tied at 62-all with 3:53 remaining in the second half, the Phoenix went on a 5-0 run to claim a 67-62 advantage after a two key baskets from Ford. Ford knocked down a three in the corner and followed it up on the next possession with a reverse layup following a steal near the basket.
It was all Elon from that point forward, as the Phoenix went ahead by as many as eight points late in the game to secure its fourth-straight win over Wofford.
Elon is off until the team heads to Charlottesville, Va., on Dec. 28-29 for the Marriott Cavalier Classic, hosted by Virginia. The Phoenix opens up the tournament against UMass on Dec. 28 before taking on either Wagner or UVA a day later. Elon closes out the 2011 calendar year on Dec. 31 at West Virginia.