ASHEVLLE, N.C. – The third-seeded Elon women’s basketball team defeated a tough sixth-seeded Samford by a final of 70-60 tonight, March 9, in the Southern Conference Tournament. The Phoenix (18-12, 14-6 SoCon) moves on to the tournament semifinals, while the Bulldogs finish the season 14-16 (11-10 SoCon).
“I’m really proud of this team tonight,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I felt like we fought for 40 minutes and that we did an outstanding job of having a balanced attack. We talked about winning the boards and that’s something you can control. I also felt like we did a great job defensively.”
Ali Ford led all players with 17 points and dished out a game-high seven assists. The senior is now 17 points shy of reaching the 2,000-point milestone. Kelsey Evans recorded 15 points and Kelsey Harris made it three players in double figures with 10 points. Harris and Sam Coffer led the team with seven boards each, helping the Phoenix win the battle on the glass 32-27.
Elon finished with a 48 percent shooting mark (28-of-58) from the field and 40 percent (6-of-15) from long distance. Samford went 19-of-43 from the field to shoot 44 percent.
Leading 8-7 early in the first half, a Shannen Cochraham layup marked the beginning of six straight points for the Phoenix, forcing a Samford timeout at the 14:21 mark. Elon continued with a 10-2 run that was capped by Ford’s second three of the game to put the maroon and gold up by 15, 24-9.
A Samford jumper with 5:01 to play pulled the Bulldogs within eight, 28-20, before layups by Coffer and Ford put Elon back up by 12. The Bulldogs shaved its deficit to nine at the break to make it a 36-27 lead for the Phoenix.
Led by 10 points from Ford, Elon shot 52 percent from the field in the first half and 50 percent from three-point range. The Bulldogs went 39 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc.
In the second half, the Bulldogs’ Hannah Dawson made it a six-point game, 38-32, with just over 16 minutes to play. Elon answered with an 11-4 run, which was finished by a fast-break layup by Harris after she stripped the ball from Samford’s Kendall Sachwantz.
The Phoenix matched its largest lead of the game of 15, 52-37, at the 11:56 mark. However, the Bulldogs would not back down, using a Jazmine Martin three to close the gap once again to six, 63-57, with just under four minutes to play.
Elon responded with back-to-back baskets by Ford and Harris to make it a 10-point advantage with three minutes left on the clock. Another three by the Bulldogs brought the game back to a seven-point differential, 67-60, with 2:42 remaining. At that point, Samford was forced to foul to try and keep the game alive but Elon was able hit at the charity stripe and claim the 10-point win.
Elon will play the second-seeded Davidson Wildcats tomorrow, March 10, in the tournament tsemifinals. Tip is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville.