ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The fifth-seeded Elon women’s basketball team was not able to overcome a slow start against top-seeded Tennessee-Chattanooga, falling 77-44, in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament today, March 9, in the U.S. Cellular Center.
“I am incredibly proud of this basketball team,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I could tell the story about everything we’ve had to endure throughout the entire season. I’m so proud of the fact that we’ve done a great job persevering through a lot of difficult things. The season was so up and down with injuries. We’ve got a lot of youth and there’s a bright future for this team. Obviously, the outing today was not the best and we didn’t shoot the ball well. My heart goes out to the players and I’m proud of how they competed until the end.”
Elon (15-16) finished 15-of-57 from the field to shoot 26 percent on the day and was held to an 11 percent clip from three (1-of-9). The Phoenix scored 26 points in the paint and 14 points off 16 UTC turnovers, while the bench contributed only 13 points. From the charity stripe, Elon hit 13-of-24 opportunities for a 54 percent mark.
Kelsey Harris led the Phoenix in scoring and on the boards with 10 points and six rebounds. Rookies Jenifer Rhodes and Lauren Brown both posted eight points in the game along with four assists from Brown
UTC (28-3) advances to the tournament final for the second straight year after shooting 47 percent on the day off a 29-of-62 performance from the field. The Lady Mocs hit 6-of-18 from long distance for a 33 percent mark and finished an impressive 93 percent from the free throw line (13-of-14). Chattanooga also won the battle on the boards, 48-31.
The Lady Mocs’ Taylor Hall tallied a double-double and led all players with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while also recording four assists. Ashlen Dewart also scored in double figures for UTC with 14 points. Chattanooga had 11 players record points in the game.
The Lady Mocs came out strong, taking an 8-0 advantage before Jessica Farmer scored Elon’s first basket at the 15:08 mark. The Phoenix stayed within seven of UTC, 19-12, after a Rhodes layup with 8:51 on the clock. Chattanooga managed a 17-6 run late in the opening half to take a 36-18 lead before Zora Stephenson hit the first maroon and gold three of the game with 17 seconds left in the frame to make it 36-21 at the break.
Despite the deficit, Elon shot 39 percent in the first half, while UTC held a 47 percent mark from the field. Both teams shot 20 percent from beyond the arc. The Lady Mocs were a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe, while the Phoenix was 2-of-4. UTC held the slight advantage on the boards, 17-15, and had turned 12 Elon turnovers into 15 points.
It was more of the same for the Lady Mocs in the second half as UTC outscored the Phoenix 26-5 with a 62-27 advantage at the 6:55 mark. With 3:51 remaining, Elon capped an 11-2 run after Harris grabbed the rebound after a missed old-fashioned three-point opportunity by Nicole Razor and Lauren Hudson was able to hit a long jumper to cut the deficit to 25, 62-37. It was too little too late as the Lady Mocs held on to win by a 33-point advantage.