ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team (7-4) opens 2016 and Colonial Athletic Association play on Sunday, Jan. 3, at UNCW (4-7). Tip is set for 2 p.m. in Trask Coliseum.
Last Time Out
Elon pulled within single digits of West Virginia in the final period in its last game on Monday but was not able to upend the Mountaineers nine-game winning streak, falling 67-57. The Phoenix 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.
Scouting the Seahawks
UNCW is going on its third game in six days when it takes on Elon on Sunday. The Seahawks are coming off a 78-56 defeat at No. 12 Duke after breaking a three-game losing skid with a win over North Florida 63-47. Naqaiyyah Teague, a CAA Preseason Honorable Mention selection, leads the team with 10.2 points per game and also hauls down 6.8 rebounds. Shatia Cole averages 9.5 points followed by Jordan Henry with 8.9 points, while Rebekah Banks is the Seahawks leader on the boards with 6.9 per game.
Elon and UNCW have met 10 times previously with each team coming out victorious five times. The Seahawks claimed the win in both regular-season meetings last year before the Phoenix took a 60-48 victory in the quarterfinals of the CAA Championship in March.
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 5.2 blocks per game as a team, which ranks 41st nationally and second in the league.
On the Boards
Elon currently ranks fourth in the conference in rebounds per game (40.5/game). The Phoenix holds a positive 1.8 advantage in the rebounding margin, which is fourth in the CAA, is third in offensive rebounds (14.5/game) and is fourth in the league in defensive rebounds (26.0/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, 225-176, and averaging 20.5 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 8.8 steals per game, while opponents are managing 7.5, and ranks third in the CAA in that category.
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fifth season with the Phoenix and owns a 76-61 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 47-15 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 to Alumni Gym for the first time in three weeks and in 2016 to host its CAA home opener on Friday, Jan. 8, against Hofstra in a 7 p.m. tip.