ELON, N.C. – A banked three by Elon’s Kelsey Harris with one second left on the clock was not enough for the Elon women’s basketball team as North Carolina A&T (8-2) left Alumni Gym with a 58-57 win over the Phoenix (5-8) today, Dec. 31.
“Congratulations to A&T. They are a very good and tough team and played a great game tonight,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I think it was a good game for both our fans to enjoy. I loved the tempo of the game, it was exciting, but unfortunately we didn’t come out on the winning end of the spectrum. I’m proud of the way we competed. I felt like we did a good job of coming out and playing with intensity and heart. There were just some mental lapses and mistakes that are easily correctable.”
The Aggies erased a 10-point Elon lead with just over six minutes remaining to tie the game at 52-all with 2:11 left on the clock. A&T would score the next three points off a free throw and basket to hold a 55-52 advantage with under a minute to play. A pair of free throws by Lauren Brown put the Phoenix back within one, 55-54, but the Aggies were sent to the line and hit two shots to go ahead by four with seven seconds on the clock. Elon was able to get the ball down the court and in the hands of Harris, who sank a three, but there was no foul on the play as time expired and left the Phoenix with a deficit of one point.
The Phoenix finished 22-of-54 from the field to shoot 40 percent and dominated the boards, 50-39, but struggled with 23 turnovers. A&T was held to a 28 percent clip from the field (20 percent in the second half), going 18-of-64, but made up for it at the line with 20 free throws off 31 attempts to finish 65 percent.
Zora Stephenson scored a team-high 10 points off a 3-for-6 performance, including two threes, and grabbed four rebounds. Harris and Autumn Carter finished with nine points and six boards each. Jenifer Rhodes hauled down a team-high seven rebounds, while Lauren Brown dished out a game and career-high five assists.
The Aggies saw a double-double from Eboni Ross who posted 10 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
In the first half, the Aggies managed to take a 19-11 lead off a 10-0 run that took up four minutes through the beginning of the frame. A defensive rebound by Carter with 4:31 on the clock turned in to a fast-break layup for Stephenson to bring the Phoenix within three, 25-22, and force an A&T timeout. The Aggies’ Temitope Oladele converted two free throw attempts with 11 seconds left in the half to put A&T up 31-26 before an offensive board and jumper by Carter at the buzzer made it a 31-28 game at the break.
Elon shot 44 percent in the first half, while the Aggies shot 37 percent. The Phoenix took the advantage on the boards, 21-19, with the help of six rebounds in the first 20 by Carter.
The maroon and gold started the second frame on an 8-0 run, taking the lead by five, 36-31, after a layup by Brown at the 15:02 mark. The Aggies scored its first field goal since 2:30 in the first half with nine minutes left on the clock to make it a 42-34 game. The Phoenix would take as much as an 11-point edge, 46-35, with over seven minutes remaining before A&T began to whittle away the Elon advantage.
The Phoenix will return to SoCon play in its next game at UNCG on Saturday, Jan. 4. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Greensboro, N.C.