ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team (12-7, 5-3) begins a three-game road stretch with a game at league leader James Madison (17-2, 8-0) on Friday, Jan. 30, to close out the first month of conference play. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va.
Last Time Out
The Phoenix played its first overtime game in over two years against Northeastern on Sunday, coming out with an 80-77 victory over the Huskies. Elon outscored NU, 12-9, in the extra period after the game was tied at 68 at the end of regulation. The Phoenix saw a career-high 21 points from Shay Burnett as she hit seven field goals in the game (another career high) and led the team with seven rebounds. Zora Stephenson finished wit 13 points followed by 11 points from Lauren Brown and 10 points from Malaya Johnson. Essence Baucom contributed nine points for the maroon and gold and six assists.
Scouting the Dukes
JMU remains unbeaten in conference play with an 8-0 mark and leads the league in scoring margin with an almost 15-point advantage. The Dukes sit atop the conference in scoring offense (74.4 points/game) and every rebounding category with an 11.2 rebounding margin over opponents, which also ranks ninth nationally. Junior Precious Hall leads the team and the league in scoring with 21.1 points per game and ranks third in the country in three-point field goals per game (3.26). JMU’s rebounding advantage is helped by Lauren Okafor’s 10.4 rebounds per game, while she also averages a double-double with 13.4 points/game
The only previous meeting between Elon and JMU came just two weeks ago when the Dukes visited Alumni Gym and claimed a 68-51 victory. This marks the first visit to Harrisonburg for the Phoenix.
Rookie of the Week (Again)
Elon’s Shay Burnett was named the CAA Rookie of the Week for the second time this season on Jan. 26. She earned the honor after leading the Phoenix in scoring the previous week, averaging 14 points per game after an 8-of-18 performance from the field to shoot 44.4 percent. The freshman also went 4-of-8 from long distance (50 percent), hit 8-of-11 chances from the line (73 percent) and hauled down 10 rebounds (5.0/game). Burnett posted a career-high 21 points after a 7-of-15 FG performance and went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc (both career highs) in the overtime win against Northeastern. Burnett also recorded four free throws and posted a team-high seven rebounds in the victory.
Standing in the Hall of Fame
It was announced on Jan. 27 that Elon head coach and former University of North Carolina standout Charlotte Smith has been selected as one of 10 members of the 2015 class of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. The induction banquet and ceremony will take place on Friday, May 15, at the Raleigh Convention Center.
The Phoenix women’s basketball team is nearing a program marker of 600 wins. Elon currently has 595 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, 396-313, in bench points. Sophomores Lauren Brown and Jenifer Rhodes have been a big part of the team’s depth with the two players averaging 7.6 and 7.3 points per game, respectively.
Elon currently ranks first in the conference and 45th nationally with 4.7 blocked shots/game. Malaya Johnson (1.2) and Sam Coffer (1.1) rank sixth and eighth 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 (4.7/game), fourth in field goal defense (38.3 percent), first in three-point field goal defense (27.7 percent) and fourth in steals (8.1/game).
From the Field
Elon is first in the CAA in field-goal percentage and third in field-goal percentage defense. The Phoenix owns a 41.8 shooting percentage 19 games into the season, while holding opponents to 38.3 percent. Malaya Johnson is second in the league with her 54.2 shooting percentage, while Shay Burnett (50.8 percent) and Jenifer Rhodes (46.3 percent) rank fourth and 11th, respectively.
Beyond the Arc
The Phoenix is shooting 33.5 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 27.7 percent from beyond the arc. Two Elon players currently rank in the top three in the conference in three-point field goal percentage. Zora Stephenson ranks second (38.4 percent) and Lauren Brown is fourth (38.2 percent).
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fourth season with the Phoenix and owns a 62-51 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 its three-game road stretch with a game at Towson next week. The Phoenix travels to Towson, Md., to take on the Tigers in a 7 p.m. tip on Thursday, Feb.