ELON, N.C. – After a win in its Colonial Athletic Association debut on Sunday, the Elon women’s basketball team (8-4, 1-0) hosts its first game of CAA competition on Tuesday, Jan. 6, against visiting Drexel (7-5, 1-0) in Alumni Gym at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the Elon Ticket Office. Admission is $15 for courtside seats, $8 for reserved seats and $5 for youth (12 and under).
Last Time Out
The Phoenix opened 2015 and a new era of Elon women’s basketball with a 60-50 win at Delaware in its first conference game of the season. Elon led for nearly the entire game and shot its second best field-goal percentage (48 percent) of the season, including 44 percent from beyond the arc. The maroon and gold scored 32 points in the paint, recorded 25 points off Blue Hen turnovers and saw an 18-4 advantage from its bench. Malaya Johnson, Zora Stephenson and Lauren Brown all scored in double figures with 10 points, while Essence Baucom tied her career-high nine assists.
Scouting the Dragons
Drexel claimed a 58-35 win over Northeastern in its conference opener Sunday to improve to 7-5 on the season. The Dragons lead the league and rank ninth nationally with its 77.1 free-throw percentage. Drexel also does not turn the ball over very much with an average of 13 turnovers per game that ranks first in the CAA and 16th in the NCAA, while also owning a league best +4.75 turnover margin. Sarah Curran and Rachel Pearson average in double figures for the Dragons with 12.6 and 10.8 points per game, respectively, while both players also shoot over 80 percent at the charity stripe. Both Curran and Pearson have been named CAA Players of the Week this season.
Tuesday marks the first contest between the Dragons and the Phoenix. Elon makes the return trip to Philadelphia in one of its last regular-season games on Friday, Feb. 27.
Twice as Nice
Malaya Johnson’s outstanding play was rewarded once again by the conference on Jan. 5 by naming her Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. The freshman led the Phoenix in the team’s three wins last week after scoring 10+ points in each outing. Johnson went 17-of-26 from the field to shoot 65 percent on the week, averaging 13.7 points and seven rebounds per game. The Mount Airy, N.C., native also went 7-of-11 from the charity stripe (64 percent) and tallied six blocks, six steals and three assists. In a win over Furman, she posted her first career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 11 boards, while hitting 3-of-5 from the line. Against Lenoir-Rhyne, Johnson led the team with 18 points off a 7-of-8 performance (88 percent) and fell just short of the double-double with eight rebound. She also went 4-of-6 from the free-throw line and recording three blocks and two steals, both career highs. Johnson notched 10 points in the team’s CAA debut and win at Delaware after shooting 71 percent and recorded two steals.
Elon currently ranks first in the conference and 30th nationally with 5.2 blocked shots/game. Sam Coffer is third in the league in blocks with 1.4 per game, while Malaya Johnson (1.1) ranks fifth. 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 (5.2/game), second in field goal defense (38 percent) and second in three-point field goal defense (28.6 percent).
The Century Mark
On Dec. 21, Sam Coffer played her 100th game in a Phoenix uniform and has now earned the start in 97 games. Teammate Zora Stephenson reached the same mark of 100 games played on Dec. 31 against Lenoir-Rhyne.
From the Field
Elon is first in the CAA in field-goal percentage, ranking 62nd nationally, and second in field-goal percentage defense. The Phoenix owns a 42.8 shooting percentage 12 games into the season, while holding opponents to 38 percent. Malaya Johnson leads the league with her 58.8 shooting percentage, while Shay Burnett (52.1 percent) and Jenifer Rhodes (50 percent) rank third and sixth, respectively.
Beyond the Arc
The Phoenix is shooting 34 percent from the three-point line and is third in the league in the long-distance shooting category. The team is second in three-point defense with opponents only shooting 28.6 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 (46.2 percent) and Zora Stephenson is seventh (36 percent).
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fourth season with the Phoenix and owns a 58-48 career record. Smith led Elon to its second straight Southern Conference Tournament semifinal appearance and a 10-8 overall conference record last season.
Elon continues a busy schedule of four games in eight days with its third game of the week on Friday, Jan. 9, at William & Mary. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in Williamsburg, Va.