ELON, N.C. – For the fourth straight season, the Elon women’s basketball team heads to Raleigh, N.C., for a December date with the North Carolina State Wolfpack. This year’s game is set for Sunday, Dec. 13, at 2 p.m. With renovations underway in NCSU’s home gym, the game will be played at Broughton High School.
Last Time Out
Led by a season-high 19 points from Jenifer Rhodes, who tied her career-high with nine field goals, the Phoenix recorded its second straight win over a Southern Conference team with a 65-55 final over Furman in its last game on Dec. 5. Elon finished 22-of-59 from the field to shoot 37 percent, including 31 percent from beyond the arc. The team also hit 16-of-21 attempts from the charity stripe for a 76 percent mark. The maroon and gold led on the glass, 47-33, and claimed a 13-0 advantage over Furman in bench points. Shay Burnett also scored in double figures with 13 points and finished with a team-high eight rebounds.
Scouting the Wolfpack
NC State is 7-2 on the season and a perfect 5-0 at home after a seven-point, 72-65, win over Charlotte in its last game on Dec. 6. The Wolfpack has played strong beyond the arc so far and ranks 12th nationally in three-point attempts, while ranking 27th in three-pointers made. The team hits 7.3 baskets from long distance per game and is shooting 29.1 percent. NCSU is led in scoring by Dominique Wilson who averages 15.2 points per game and has 21 threes this year. Jennifer Mathurin and Miah Spencer also average in double figures with 12.1 and 10.8 points per game, respectively. On the boards, the team ranks 21st nationally in rebounds and 39th in rebounds per game with 43.89. Mathurin is the team leader in rebounds with 6.6 per game followed by Chelsea Nelson with 6.2/game.
Elon and NC State have met eight times on the hardwood since 1972. The Wolfpack has won all eight of the games, including an 84-51 victory in the last meeting a year ago in Reynolds Coliseum.
The Kay Connection
The Phoenix and the Wolfpack have one very special person in common. In 1971, Kay Yow became Elon’s first women’s basketball coach and led the Fighting Christians to a 57-19 record over a four-year span. Yow left Elon to take over the NC State program in 1975 and remained the head coach for the Wolfpack until she lost her long battle with breast cancer in 2009.
Sunday’s game will mark a homecoming of sorts for Elon assistant coach Cristy McKinney. McKinney, formerly Cristy Earnhardt, was a four-year letterwinner at NC State from 1976-79 and played for the former Elon and Wolfpack head coach Kay Yow.
Elon and NC State have two previous opponents in common this season with both teams have played contests against Liberty and Charlotte. The Wolfpack has gone 2-0 in those two games with a 61-53 victory at Liberty and a 72-65 final against Charlotte. The Phoenix is 1-1 after falling at Liberty 72-63 and claiming a 90-83 win against the 49ers.
Elon’s 17 total team blocks on Nov. 29 against East Tennessee State marked a new Division I single-game high this season and also set a new CAA single-game record. The Phoenix saw five players set new or match career highs in blocks against the Buccaners in Malaya Johnson (5), Autumn Carter (4), Essence Baucom (2), Lauren Brown (2) and Maddie McCallie (1). Elon is currently averaging 6.0 blocks per game as a team, which ranks 12th nationally and first in the league.
On the Boards
Elon currently ranks 16th in the nation and first in the conference in rebounds per game (45.86/game). The Phoenix holds a positive 7.0 advantage in the rebounding margin, which is second in the CAA, and leads the league in defensive rebounds (30.4/game) and is second in offensive rebounds (15.4/game).
Off the Bench
The Elon bench has been a contributor to the maroon and gold’s success this season. The Phoenix bench is outscoring the opponents, 144-100, and averaging 20.6 points per game.
The Elon defense tallied an impressive 14 steals in its win over Lenoir-Rhyne on Nov. 14 and another 10 at Liberty on Nov. 16. The Phoenix is averaging 8.6 steals per game, while opponents are managing 7.9, and leads the CAA in the same category.
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fifth season with the Phoenix and owns a 74-59 career record. Smith has led Elon to three straight conference tournament semifinal appearances, as well as an at-large bid to the 2015 WNIT, the first in program history, after a 19-13 overall record and 11-7 league mark in its first season in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Alumni Gym has proven to be a tough place to play for opponents under head coach Charlotte Smith. The maroon and gold is 46-15 in Alumni Gym in five seasons under Coach Smith. The Phoenix went 10-5 at home during the 2014-15 season after a 10-4 record during the 2013-14 season. The Phoenix has lost no more than five games at home in a season and out scored its opponents 1,001-963 on Robertson Court last year.
The Phoenix returns home to play in Alumni Gym for the first time in three weeks on Saturday, Dec. 19, to host High Point. Tip is set for 3:30 p.m. as the second game in an Elon basketball doubleheader.