CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Elon University women’s basketball team could not put the breaks on a hot-shooting UMass squad on Wednesday, Dec. 28, as the Phoenix fell 76-56 to the Minutewomen on the opening day of the Marriott Cavalier Classic at John Paul Jones Arena.
“The physicality of the game offensively in the first 10 minutes of the game was a big difference tonight, coupled with [UMass’] ability to hit the three,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I thought we responded well the final 30 minutes of the game and played with passion and energy, but it was too big of a hole for us to climb out of. We have a quick turnaround against a quality opponent either way tomorrow, so we have to put tonight’s game behind us and focus on the next game.”
Elon cut a 22-point UMass lead to 11 points with 11:05 to play after Lei Lei Hairston knocked down a pair of free throws to cap off a 13-2 run. But the Minutewomen kept their foot on the pedal, going ahead by as many as 23 points in the final frame to secure the win.
UMass (5-8) put four players in double figures against the Phoenix (5-6), including a game-high 19 points from Megan Zullo, all of which came in the first half.
Elon shot 36 percent from the field in the setback, while UMass shot at a 52-percent clip for the game. The Phoenix took 27 shots from beyond the arc in the game, the most since the team shot 28 versus Virginia Intermont on Nov. 18.
Ali Ford led Elon with 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting from the field, while Kelsey Evans finished with 11 points and eight boards to narrowly miss recording a double-double.
Aiesha Harper played well at the point, dishing out six assists for Elon. Over the last four games, Harper has tallied 24 assists.
UMass won the battle on the boards, 38-33, but the Phoenix dominated the offensive glass with 14 rebounds.
The Phoenix turned 21 UMass turnovers into 12 points in the victory, while the Elon bench outscored its counterparts 9-4.
Trailing by just three points at the first media timeout, the Phoenix saw the Minutewomen go on a 17-4 run to take a 29-13 advantage with 9:55 left in the first half. UMass knocked down five three-pointers over a four-minute span to take its 16-point lead.
The Minutewomen carried their 16-point lead into the locker room, 39-23, after shooting 52 percent from the field in the opening frame, including 88 percent (7-of-8) from beyond the arc.
The Phoenix managed to make it a 11-point game about midway through the second half following a pair of Hairston makes from the charity stripe, but that was as close as the maroon and gold would come. UMass went on a 13-0 run at that point to take a commanding lead and all but seal the victory.
Elon wraps up the Marriott Cavalier Classic tomorrow against either Virginia or Wagner. If Elon plays Wagner, the game is slated for 4:30 p.m. If the Phoenix takes on Virginia, the two teams will tip at 7 p.m.