MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – After trailing by only three at the half, a strong second half put No. 6 North Carolina (11-1) over the Elon women’s basketball team (5-4), 85-67, today, Dec. 21, in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The game marked the first time Elon head coach Charlotte Smith faced her alma mater and the first against a ranked team for Elon since 2007.
“I was so excited about the way we played the first half,” said Smith. “We came out with a lot of focus and energy, executed offensively and played outstanding. In the second half, I felt like we had too many turnovers and that translated into fast-break points for them. We talked about valuing the basketball before the game because those types of turnovers turn into points for the other team.”
Led by 16 points from Sam Coffer, who went 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-6 from three, Elon finished 25-of-53 from the field to shoot 47 percent, including seven threes for 33 percent from beyond the arc. The Phoenix converted 10-of-13 trips to the line for a 77 percent mark and had the advantage off the bench, 28-17.
Lauren Brown scored a season-high 15 points after shooting 50 percent in the game, while rookie Malaya Johnson continued her strong play, going 4-of-5 from the field and scoring 10 points to make it three Phoenix in double figures. Jenifer Rhodes led the team on the boards with six rebounds, while Essence Baucom had five assists.
UNC finished 28-of-61 from the field to shoot 46 percent and went 33 percent from three. The Tar Heels claimed the advantage on the boards, 36-31.
Back-to-back threes by Coffer put the Phoenix ahead by three, 8-5, in the first two minutes. Trailing by only one point after a Johnson basket, 11-10, the Tar Heels managed a 22-4 run to take an 18-point advantage, 32-14, with 9:05 left in the half.
A three by Brown stopped the UNC run and sparked the Phoenix to its on streak to pull within five, 35-30, with just under five minutes remaining. Down by seven with under two minutes on the clock, Brown hit another basket from long distance to make it a four-point game, 43-39. The Tar Heels answered with a three but Elon immediately responded with a layup by Rhodes to keep the game within five, 46-41.
With 26 ticks remaining, a steal by Brown turned into a Lauren Hudson jumper to bring the Phoenix within three, 46-43, with 12 seconds left. A strong defensive stand at the other end of the court helped the maroon and gold finish the half with a 29-6 run and only trail by a basket.
Elon went 16-of-26 to shoot 62 percent in the first frame, including five threes for a 42 percent mark from three. UNC finished the first half 54 percent from the field and 55 percent from long distance. The Phoenix led on the boards, 13-12, and had a 22-8 advantage from its bench.
The Tar Heels started the second half on an 11-0 run before a Coffer layup at the 16:09 mark. Miscues by the Phoenix allowed UNC to lead by as much as 26, 85-59. Elon was able to close out the game on an 8-0 run to cut the final deficit to 18.
Elon returns to action on Monday, Dec. 29, when it hosts former Southern Conference opponent Furman in Alumni Gym at 7 p.m.