ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team (10-5, 3-1) continues its three game home stand when it welcomes league leader and reigning conference champion James Madison (13-2, 4-0) on Thursday, Jan. 15, for a 7 p.m. tip in Alumni Gym. 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 claimed a 77-68 win over former Southern Conference and current CAA team College of Charleston in its last game on Sunday to improve to 3-1 on the season in league play. Elon shot a season-high 91 percent from the charity stripe and has now shot over 40 percent from the field in seven of its last eight games. Zora Stephenson hit seven threes in the game, one shy of her career high, for a season-high 27 points. Lauren Brown and Malaya Johnson also scored in double figures with 10 points each, while Shay Burnett came close to a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.
Scouting the Dukes
JMU has been ranked as high as No. 23 this year, has consistently received votes in both polls all season and currently ranks first in the College Insider Mid-Major poll. The Dukes are the reigning conference champions and are a perfect 4-0 in conference play so far this season. JMU leads the league in scoring with 74.3 points per game and owns a league-high positive 12.6 scoring margin advantage. The team also leads the CAA and ranks sixth nationally in rebounding with a positive 11.5 rebounding margin and ranks first in rebounding offense and defense. Preseason Player of the Year Precious Hall is the team and the league’s leading scorer with 21.1 points per game, while reigning CAA Player of the Week Lauren Okafor ranks first in the conference on the boards with 10.7 rebounds/game.
While located only a few hours apart, Thursday marks the first meeting for the Phoenix and the Dukes. JMU and Elon will face off twice a season now in the CAA. The maroon and gold makes the return trip to Harrisonburg, Va., at the end of the month on Friday, Jan. 30.
Spark of the Bench
The extra spark that Elon has had off the bench has been a tremendous asset so far this season. The Phoenix is outscoring its opponents, 315-256, in bench points. Sophomores Lauren Brown and Jenifer Rhodes have been a big part of the team’s depth with the two players averaging 7.7 and 7.4 points per game, respectively.
All 10 CAA teams just finished a tough stretch of games from Jan. 4 – Jan. 11 in which each team played four games in that eight-day span. The Phoenix went 3-1 during that time with wins over Delaware, William & Mary and College of Charleston.
Elon currently ranks first in the conference and 40th nationally with 4.9 blocked shots/game. Sam Coffer is fifth in the league in blocks with 1.3 per game, while Malaya Johnson (1.1) ranks sixth. 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 (4.9/game), second in field goal defense (38.0 percent), fourth in three-point field goal defense (28.8 percent) and fourth in steals (8.2/game).
The Century Mark
On Dec. 21, Sam Coffer played her 100th game in a Phoenix uniform and has now earned the start in 100 games after the game against College of Charleston on Jan. 11. 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 63rd nationally, and thid in field-goal percentage defense. The Phoenix owns a 42.8 shooting percentage 15 games into the season, while holding opponents to 38 percent. Malaya Johnson leads the league with her 58.3 shooting percentage, while Shay Burnett (52.7 percent) and Jenifer Rhodes (48.9 percent) rank fourth and seventh, respectively.
Beyond the Arc
The Phoenix is shooting 33 percent from the three-point line and is third in the league in the long-distance shooting category. The team is fourth in three-point defense with opponents only shooting 28.8 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 (42.1 percent) and Zora Stephenson is fourth (37.4 percent).
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fourth season with the Phoenix and owns a 60-49 career record. Smith led Elon to its second straight Southern Conference Tournament semifinal appearance and a 10-8 overall conference record last season.
Elon remains home to close out its current home stand in its next game on Sunday, Jan. 18, in a 2 p.m. tip against Towson.