MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Elon women’s basketball team pulled within single digits of West Virginia in the final period but was not able to upend the Mountaineers nine-game winning streak, falling 67-57 tonight, Dec. 28, in WVU Coliseum.
The Phoenix (7-4) forced 25 WVU turnovers and scored 22 points off those miscues, while also tallying 28 points in the paint. Elon finished 21-of-64 from the field for a 33 percent mark and struggled from beyond the arc after hitting just 2-of-13 attempts for a 15 percent clip. The maroon and gold knocked down 13-of-20 shots from the free throw line (65 percent) and saw 23 points from its bench.
Jenifer Rhodes led the Phoenix with 14 points and eight boards followed by Lauren Brown who came off the bench for 13 points. Shay Burnett finished in double figures with 10 points, while Essence Baucom tallied five assists.
The Mountaineers (11-2) hit 47 percent from the field after going 24-of-51 and had six threes for 29 percent from long distance. WVU claimed the advantage on the boards, 46-32, and finished with seven blocks. Lanay Montgomery went a perfect 9-of-9 from the field to score a game-high 21 points and added nine rebounds. Bria Holmes followed with 19 points and seven boards, while Teana Muldrow had a game-high 10 rebounds.
After a layup by Autumn Carter at the 6:26 mark in the first period made it a two-point game, 6-4, the Mountaineers managed an 8-0 run to take a 10-point advantage. WVU extended its lead to 12, 23-11, by the end of the frame.
The Mountaineers led by as much as 18, 31-13, with 6:36 remaining in the second period before a layup by Rhodes sparked a run of eight straight for the Phoenix to cut the deficit to 10, 31-21, with just under two minutes on the clock. Rhodes hit a free throw at the 58 second mark to bring the maroon and gold as close as nine, 33-24, before a Mountaineer basket in the final 15 seconds made it a 35-24 game at the break.
Jumpers by Baucom and Malaya Johnson helped the Phoenix cut its deficit to nine, 37-28, in the third period. WVU answered by scoring five straight before baskets by Baucom and Burnett made it a 10-point game, 42-32, with 4:56 to play. Elon pulled back within nine, 43-34, after a Brown basket with 3:43 on the clock. The Mountaineers moved back in front by 17, 54-37, as a Baucom jumper made it 54-39 heading into the final period.
With WVU leading by 19, 58-39, with 8:24 to play, eight straight points by Brown helped the maroon and gold to an 11-0 run over a 3:53 span to make it an eight-point game, 58-50. The Mountaineers responded with eight straight for a 16-point edge, 66-50, with under three minutes to play. The Phoenix was able to make it a 10-point differential after a Rhodes jumper in the final minute as WVU moved on to the victory.
Elon begins 2016 and its second year of Colonial Athletic Association play on Sunday, Jan. 3, at UNCW. The Phoenix and the Seahawks are set to tip off at 2 p.m. in Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C.