ELON, N.C. – A new year and era of Elon women’s basketball begins on Sunday, Jan. 4, when the Phoenix (7-4) plays its first Colonial Athletic Association game against the Delaware Blue Hens (5-6) in Newark, Del. The game is set for a 2 p.m. tip in the Bob Carpenter Center.
Last Time Out
The Phoenix closed the book on the 2014 portion of the season with a 62-46 win over Lenoir-Rhyne on Wednesday afternoon. Elon outscored the Bears, 30-19, in the second half to finish with the 16-point advantage. The maroon and gold saw another stellar performance from rookie Malaya Johnson who went 7-of-8 from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe to finish with 18 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Essence Baucom scored 10 points off a 5-of-8 day and had three assists and four steals. Elon scored 42 points in the paint and saw 10 blocks from its defense.
Scouting the Blue Hens
Delaware snapped a three-game losing skid with a 68-53 win over Rider in its last game on Dec. 29. The Blue Hens are 5-6 on the season after earning the CAA’s automatic bid to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) last season. Delaware leads the league and ranks 21st in the nation in three-point field goal percentage with a 38.1 percent mark with Hannah Jardine shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc this season. Courtni Green is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 15.5 points per game along with 5.3 rebounds. Two other players, Erika Green and Jardine, score in double figures with 12.8 and 10.8 points/game, respectively. Joy Caracciolo is the team leader on the glass with 6.8 rebounds per game and ranks eighth in the league.
Sunday’s game marks the first of many future meetings between the Phoenix and the Blue Hens. Delaware makes the return trip to Alumni Gym for the final game of the regular season in two months on Wednesday, March 4.
Elon currently ranks first in the conference and 46th nationally with 5.5 blocked shots/game. Sam Coffer is third in the league in blocks with 1.5 per game, while Malaya Johnson (1.2) ranks fourth. Elon posted a season-high 11 blocks in its game at NC State on Dec. 7. That mark tied a team-high mark under head coach Charlotte Smith. The only other time the Phoenix has recorded 11 blocks in a game in the last four years was at Georgia Southern on Jan. 13, 2014.
On the Defensive
The Phoenix defense has played strong so far this season and ranks in the top of several CAA defensive categories. Elon is first in blocked shots (5.5/game), fourth in field goal defense (38.2 percent), first in three-point field goal defense (28.1 percent) and third in defensive rebounds (26.9/game).
The Century Mark
On Dec. 21, Sam Coffer played her 100th game in a Phoenix uniform and has now earned the start in 96 games. Teammate Zora Stephenson is closing in on the same milestone with 98 games played since her freshman season.
From the Field
Elon is first in the CAA in field-goal percentage and fourth in field-goal percentage defense. The Phoenix owns a 42.4 shooting percentage 11 games into the season, while holding opponents to 38 percent. Malaya Johnson leads the league with her 57.5 shooting percentage, while Shay Burnett (52.2 percent) and Jenifer Rhodes (51 percent) rank fourth and fifth, respectively.
Beyond the Arc
The Phoenix is shooting 33 percent from the three-point line and is fourth in the league in the long-distance shooting category. The team is first in three-point defense with opponents only shooting 28.1 percent from beyond the arc. Two Elon players currently rank in the top 10 in the conference in three-point field goal percentage. Lauren Brown ranks third (44.4 percent) and Zora Stephenson is eighth (35.7 percent).
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fourth season with the Phoenix and owns a 57-48 career record. Smith led Elon to its second straight Southern Conference Tournament semifinal appearance and a 10-8 overall conference record last season.
The Phoenix hosts its first CAA game in its next outing on Tuesday, Jan. 6, as Elon welcomes Drexel to Alumni Gym. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.