ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team was unable to take down league leader James Madison tonight, Jan. 15, as the Dukes took a 68-51 win over the Phoenix in Alumni Gym. The victory keeps JMU undefeated in conference play with a 5-0 CAA record (14-2 overall), while Elon falls to 10-6 (3-2 CAA).
“I’m proud of our effort tonight,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I thought we played pretty solid defensively in the first half. We definitely had some miscues on defense in the second half, but a solid defensive effort overall. I think the outcome of this game could be a lot different if we cut down on turnovers. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight, so we have to find second-chance opportunities. It’s just a few minor adjustments to hopefully get a different outcome the next game.”
The Phoenix finished 19-of-54 from the field to shoot 35 percent and went 5-of-16 from beyond the arc (31 percent). Elon struggled from the charity stripe, going 8-of-15 for a 53 percent mark. The maroon and gold saw a 26-10 advantage in bench points and finished with seven total blocks.
Shay Burnett led the Phoenix with 10 points and also had four assists, while Jenifer Rhodes finished with nine points. On defense, Sam Coffer hauled down nine boards with Malaya Johnson claiming seven rebounds and a career-high four blocks.
The Dukes went 24-of-64 from the field for a 38 percent mark but was held to a 13 percent clip from three after only making two of its 16 attempts from long range. JMU knocked down 18-of-29 shots from the line and held the advantage on the glass, 47-37. Precious Hall finished with a game-high 18 points, while Lauren Okafor had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Both defenses played strong to start the game with only three field goals between the two teams in the first seven minutes of the game. With JMU leading by six, 12-6, Lenaira Ruffin hit the only three of the first half at the 9:34 mark to put the Phoenix within three of the Dukes, 12-9.
After JMU moved ahead by nine, two made free throws by Coffer and two baskets by Brown helped the Phoenix make it a five-point game, 20-15, with 4:16 left in the half. The Dukes managed to close out the opening frame on a 12-5 run to hold a 32-20 lead at the break.
Elon shot 31 percent in the first half (8-of-26), including 25 percent from three, while JMU held a 36 percent mark (11-of-31) after missing all seven baskets from long distance. The Dukes led on the boards, 22-18, and scored 14 points off 15 Phoenix turnovers.
JMU came out of the break with the first five points to move ahead by 17, 37-20, just 73 seconds into the second frame. A three by Coffer at the 18:30 mark sparked a 15-8 run for the maroon and gold that spanned almost eight minutes and closed the gap to 10, 45-35, while holding the Dukes scoreless for 4:43 during the stretch.
A basket from long distance by Lauren Brown would keep the Phoenix within 11, 49-38, but JMU responded with a 10-1 run that gave the Dukes its largest advantage of the game, 59-39, with just over five minutes remaining. Elon was able to trim the deficit to 14 twice off a triple by Zora Stephenson and a Burnett layup with under four minutes to play. However, the Phoenix was unable to get any closer as the Dukes moved on to the 17-point final advantage.
Elon wraps up a three-game home stand on Sunday, Jan. 18, when it hosts Towson for a 2 p.m. tip in Alumni Gym.