ATLANTA – The Elon women’s basketball team struggled to hit shots and seemed unlucky at times, falling to Georgia Tech, 69-47, in the first round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament in McCamish Pavilion tonight, March 19.
“We were missing a lot of easy shots and defensively I felt like we didn’t come out with the focus, fire, intensity and passion that we have played with in the last two games,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “It’s a great opportunity for this team to be here (in the WNIT) but I challenged the team not just to be happy to be here. I felt like today we didn’t play to our highest potential, so I’m sad that we weren’t able to come out and compete.”
Elon finishes the season with a 19-13 overall record, marking the best season for the Phoenix under Smith. The maroon and gold finished 19-of-59 to shoot only 32 percent from the field and went 4-of-21 from beyond the arc for a 19 percent clip. Elon was only sent to the line six times, hitting five of those shots for an 83 percent mark. Elon claimed the advantage in the paint, 26-18, and bench points, 27-12.
Shay Burnett led the Phoenix with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Zora Stephenson closed out her strong career at Elon with eight points.
Georgia Tech (19-14) shot 41 percent from the field after going 23-of-56 and hit seven threes (32 percent). The Yellow Jackets also claimed an 80 percent mark from the charity stripe (16-of-20) and held the edge on the glass, 39-32. GT saw strong performances from Kaela Davis and Aaliyah Whiteside, who finished the game with 24 and 23 points, respectively.
After taking a 5-2 lead after a three by Coffer and basket by Mbouma, the Jackets managed a 19-0 run, keeping the Phoenix scoreless for nine minutes to take a 21-5 advantage. Stephenson broke the scoring drought for the maroon and gold with a three at the 9:20 mark but GT was able to finish out the half with a 22-point edge with a 42-20 lead at the break.
Elon was held to 27 percent from the field in the opening frame, including 27 percent from long distance, but held a 13-2 advantage in bench points. Tech shot 54 percent in the first half, going 15-of-28, and converted 9-of-10 chances from the free throw line. The Jackets also held the advantage on the boards, 20-10.
The Phoenix came out of the break strong with a 6-1 advantage after a basket by Burnett and two by Jenifer Rhodes to pull within 17, 43-26. The Yellow Jackets responded with a 14-5 run to move ahead 57-31 by the 11:53 mark.
With GT holding a 69-39 advantage, four points by Mackenzie Darrah and baskets by Lauren Hudson and Burnett helped Elon to eight straight to close out the game.