ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team (11-6, 4-2) plays four of its next five games on the road, beginning with a game at UNC Wilmington (6-11, 2-4) on Thursday, Jan. 22. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C.
Last Time Out
Elon wrapped up a three game home stand with a 58-43 win over Towson on Sunday. The Phoenix led by just two at the half before a 31-18 advantage in the second frame, including a 17-0 run that spanned just over seven of the final nine minutes that allowed the maroon and gold the 15-point victory. The 43 points scored by the Tigers is the fewest points allowed by Elon this season. The Phoenix hauled down a season-high 48 rebounds to finish with a +14 rebounding margin in the game. Zora Stephenson led all players with 16 points after four baskets from long distance, while Essence Baucom tied a career-high 13 points. Shay Burnett finished with 11 points and eight rebounds with Malaya Johnston tying her career-high 11 rebounds mark.
Scouting the Seahawks
UNCW is looking to snap a three-game losing skid after a 71-57 loss at Hofstra in its last game on Sunday. The Seahawks last win came on Jan. 9 with a 69-57 final over College of Charleston and also claimed a one-point win against William & Mary for its two conference wins on the season. UNCW ranks third in the league in scoring offence, averaging 64.1 points per game, and holds positive margins in rebounding (+2.3) and in turnovers (+1.41). Senior Kelva Atkins leads the team and ranks third in the conference in scoring with 18.2 points per game. Brie Mobley also ranks in the top 20 in the league in scoring with 11.1 points/game. The Seahawks hold a positive margin in rebounding with help from Naqaiyyah Teague and her 7.9 boards per game that ranks fourth in the CAA.
Thursday marks the eighth all-time meeting between UNCW and Elon. The teams have played a non-conference game the last two seasons but this marks the first CAA game between the two programs. The Phoenix won the last two meetings, including a 67-61 win in Wilmington on Nov. 13, 2013, and owns the advantage in the series, 4-3.
At the Half
Every game that Elon has won this season, the Phoenix was leading the game at the break. The maroon and gold is 11-1 on the year when up at the half and a perfect 4-0 in conference play.
Outside of the CAA, UNCW and Elon have one other opponent in common this season. Both teams played Campbell during non-conference competition. The Phoenix claimed a 77-51 win over the Camels in Buies Creek, N.C., on Dec. 17, while the Seahawks took an 89-80 home win against Campbell in its second game of the season on Nov. 19.
The Phoenix women’s basketball team is nearing a program marker of 600 wins. Elon currently has 594 overall wins since it began competition in 1971.
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 out scoring its opponents, 350-271, in bench points. Sophomores Lauren Brown and Jenifer Rhodes have been a big part of the team’s depth with the two players averaging 7.2 and 7.3 points per game, respectively.
Elon currently ranks first in the conference and 41st nationally with 4.8 blocked shots/game. Malaya Johnson (1.3) and Sam Coffer (1.2) rank sixth and fifth in the league in blocks, respectively. 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 (4.8/game), third in field goal defense (37.4 percent), second in three-point field goal defense (27.3 percent) and fourth in steals (8.0/game).
From the Field
Elon is first in the CAA in field-goal percentage and fourth in field-goal percentage defense. The Phoenix owns a 42.0 shooting percentage 17 games into the season, while holding opponents to 37.4 percent. Malaya Johnson is second in the league with her 56.3 shooting percentage, while Shay Burnett (51.9 percent) and Jenifer Rhodes (46.4 percent) rank fourth and 11th, respectively.
Beyond the Arc
The Phoenix is shooting 32.7 percent from the three-point line and is third in the league in the long-distance shooting category. The team is first in three-point defense with opponents only shooting 28 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 second (39.7 percent) and Zora Stephenson is fourth (38 percent).
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fourth season with the Phoenix and owns a 61-50 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 returns home to Alumni Gym on Sunday, Jan. 25, to host Northeastern in a 3 p.m. game that will also be aired on American Sports Network.