ELON, N.C. – Four seniors completed their home careers with a storybook ending on Monday night, Feb. 27, in Alumni Gym, leading the Elon women’s basketball team to a 73-46 blowout victory over Western Carolina in the regular season finale for both squads.
Tonight marked the final home game for seniors Aiesha Harper, Kallie Hovatter, Jermile’ Batten and Erica Keto, as all contributed to Elon’s second-largest margin of victory over a Southern Conference team since joining the league in 2003-04. The Phoenix topped WCU by 27 points in Cullowhee last season and beat Georgia Southern by 30 points earlier this month on Feb. 18.
Hovatter scored a career-high 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go along with three assists and three steals, while Harper chipped in with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
The Phoenix held its opponent below 50 points for the seventh time this season, a feat the team accomplished just four times all last year. Elon held WCU to 33 percent shooting from the field and held every Catamount player below double-digits.
Elon (16-13, 12-8) heads into the 2012 SoCon Tournament riding a four-game winning streak. The fifth-seeded Phoenix is set to face fourth-seeded Samford on Saturday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m. after earning a first-round bye.
“Tonight was an incredible game and the team came out with a tremendous focus and we got off to a great start and never looked back,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We always talk about the things we can control and that’s defense and rebounding. We did an outstanding job of controlling penetration and help-defense.
We’re peaking and playing our best basketball right now. I’m excited with the string of wins we have going into the tournament. We’re in a great place mentally and we have outstanding team chemistry right now and that can only help us going into the tournament.”
Ali Ford was the third Phoenix player in double figures, scoring 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including three makes from beyond the arc. Ford moved into third all-time in Elon history in scoring with the win, passing Hall of Famer Lou Williamson. Ford enters the SoCon Tournament with 1,489 career points, nearly one year after she scored her 1,000th career point against Furman in last year’s SoCon Tournament win.
Kelsey Evans finished the night with a game-high 11 boards to go along with six points and one block.
Lisa Archie gave the Phoenix a 10-point lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half after Zora Stephenson hit her near the charity stripe for an easy jumper to make it a 15-5 game.
Stifling defense helped Elon take a 31-15 lead at intermission, as the Phoenix held WCU to 25 percent shooting on 6-of-25 field goal attempts. No Catamount player had more than one field goal make in the opening frame.
Western Carolina pulled within single digits for the first time since the 7:45 mark of the first half after Diamond Hunnicutt hit a 10-foot jumper in the paint to limit Elon to a 31-22 lead with 18:45 to play. Hunnicutt led WCU with a team-high nine points.
But the maroon and gold answered with an 18-6 run to go ahead by 21 points after Hovatter completed an old-fashioned three-point play with 11:33 remaining to give Elon a 49-28 lead, one it would not relinquish.
Elon’s 12 conference wins tie last year’s team and the 2003-04 squad for the most league victories since becoming a member of the SoCon.
Smith’s 16 wins so far this season are the most by an Elon first-year head coach in program history.
2012 Southern Conference Tournament Schedule
Friday, March 2
Game 1— (8) College of Charleston vs. (9) Wofford, 11:30 a.m.
Game 2 — (7) Western Carolina vs. (10) Georgia Southern, 2:00 p.m.
Game 3 — (6) Furman vs. (11) UNCG, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 3
Game 4—(1) Davidson vs. Winner of Game 1, Noon
Game 5—(4) Samford vs. (5) Elon, 2:30 p.m.
Game 6—(2) Appalachian State vs. Winner of Game 2, 6:00 p.m.
Game 7—(3) Chattanooga vs. Winner of Game 3, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 4
Semifinal 2—2:30 p.m.
Monday, March 5
Championship Game—5:00 p.m.