ELON, N.C. – Six points in the final three minutes by rookie Shay Burnett helped lift Elon to 77-72 win over Anderson in its season opener tonight, Nov. 14, in Alumni Gym. Four Phoenix players finished in double figures to help the maroon and gold win its second straight season opener and move to 28-17 all-time in openers.
Elon went 30-of-63 from the field to shoot 48 percent on the night and scored 34 points in the paint. With the help of five threes from Zora Stephenson, the Phoenix finished 8-of-19 (42 percent) from beyond the arc. Anderson finished 25-of-63 for a 40 percent mark but was held to a 21 percent clip from three-point range. Elon won the battle on the boards, 42-34, and saw its bench outscore the Trojan reserves, 18-2.
“There were times where we were really flat and lacked the intensity that we needed to play the way that I feel Elon women’s basketball plays,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I’m grateful we got the win and there were sparks in some really great things that we did. We have to find a way to connect the dots to where we can string it together and do those things for 40 minutes.”
Stephenson led the Phoenix with 15 points and also hauled down a team-high five rebounds. Newcomer Malaya Johnson went 6-of-9 on the night to finish with 13 points, while Sam Coffer recorded 12 points and five rebounds. Essence Baucom tallied 10 points along with an impressive eight assists and four steals.
With the Phoenix leading by three, 15-12, with 12:10 to play in the first half, Elon put together a 10-3 run, including threes by Stephenson and Burnett, to move ahead by 10, 25-15. Anderson pulled back within five, 34-29, with just over three minutes to play in the half before Jenifer Rhodes scored three straight baskets to return the Phoenix to a double-digit advantage, 40-30.
Two made free throws by Josepha Mbouma gave Elon its largest lead of the half, 42-30, with 47 seconds left on the clock. The Trojans made up the two points to cut the Elon advantage to 10, 42-32, at the break.
Elon shot 52 percent from the field, including 63 percent from three, in the first frame, while Anderson was held to a 35 percent mark.
The Trojans would slowly whittle away at the Phoenix lead and tied the game, 52-all, at the 13:13 mark in the second half. Under a minute later, Anderson claimed its first lead of the game, 56-54, off a Jennifer Monroe layup.
The Phoenix answered with a 10-0 run over a four-minute span that was capped by an offensive board and layup by Shannen Cochraham with 7:32 on the clock to put Elon ahead, 64-56. After the Trojans pulled back within four, 64-60, a Stephenson three lifted the Phoenix back to a seven-point advantage with under six minutes to play.
Anderson cut its deficit to three twice before a layup by Burnett and another three by Stephenson made it a 75-67 game with 1:27 remaining. Burnett recorded another basket as time expired on the shot clock to keep it an eight-point advantage, 77-69, but the Trojans hit a three with two ticks of the clock left to make it a 77-72 final.
Elon remains at home in Alumni Gym for its next game on Sunday, Nov. 16, against Navy. Tip against the Midshipmen is scheduled for 2 p.m.