ELON, N.C. – A 17-2 run in the final six minutes was not enough for the Elon women’s basketball team as the Phoenix (4-3) dropped its first home game of the season, 66-50, against Vanderbilt (7-2) today, Dec. 14, in Alumni Gym. The game marked the first visit to Alumni by a Southeastern Conference women’s basketball team and the fifth-largest crowd since the 1998-99 season.
Elon finished 18-of-60 from the field to shoot 30 percent, including 25 percent from beyond the arc, while shooting 50 percent from the free-throw line (7-of-14). The Phoenix forced a team season-high 27 turnovers and scored 25 points off those turnovers.
Vanderbilt went 43 percent from the field after hitting 25-of-58 shots and 27 percent from three-point range. The Commodores held a 72 percent mark from the charity stripe (13-of-18) and claimed the battle on the boards, 52-29.
“We did not do a good job of getting organized offensively,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We have to do a better job of that, making sure everyone is in the right spot, before we try to initiate the offense. We got looks but shots did not fall today. We spent all week working on shooting and trying to polish our shots because we’ve struggled with that. We just have to get those to fall and then control the things we can control like rebounding and take care of the basketball.”
Zora Stephenson led the Phoenix with 14 points after hitting four threes on the day. Shay Burnett scored eight points, while Sam Coffer finished with six points, four rebounds and two blocks to help Elon to five blocks. Vandy was led by 15 points from Heather Bowe and a double-double 14 points and 16 rebounds by Morgan Batey.
With the opening half tied at two-all, the Commodores managed a 12-0 run to lead, 14-2, before a three by Stephenson broke the Elon drought with 12:43 on the clock. Another Stephenson basket from long distance pulled the Phoenix within eight, 18-10, with just over 10 minutes to play in the half. Stephenson’s third three of the game and a bucket by Burnett kept the maroon and gold within a single digits of Vanderbilt, 24-15, but the Commodores were able to answer and close the frame on a 14-3 run for a 38-18 lead at the half.
The Phoenix was held to a 27 percent mark from the field in the first half (7-of-26), while the Commodores shot 47 percent from the field and 83 percent from the line. Vandy also held the advantage on the glass, 25-11.
The Phoenix grabbed the momentum out of the break and used a Jenifer Rhodes jumper 12 seconds into the half to start an 8-0 run. Another jumper by Rhodes bookended the scoring streak for Elon to pull the team within 12, 38-26, with 16:59 on the clock. The Commodores responded and used the next 10 minutes to move out to its largest lead of the game, 64-33, with under seven minutes remaining. In the final six minutes, Elon outscored Vandy, 17-2, with baskets by six different Phoenix to make it a 16-point differential in the end.
Elon travels to Buies Creek, N.C., to play Campbell in its next game on Wednesday, Dec. 17, in a 3 p.m. tip.