ELON, N.C. – After three weeks on the road, the Elon women’s basketball team (8-4, 1-0) returns to Alumni Gym to host Hofstra (10-2, 1-0) in its Colonial Athletic Association home opener on Friday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through the Elon Ticket Office. Admission is $15 for courtside seats, $8 for reserved seats and $5 for youth (12 and under).
Last Time Out
Elon was able to hold off a fighting UNCW team to open CAA play with a 67-60 win on Sunday in Wilmington, N.C. The Phoenix finished 23-of-65 from the field to shoot 35 percent, including six threes (32 percent), and hit 15-of-22 from the charity stripe for a 68 percent mark. Elon finished just four rebounds shy of its season high, winning the battle on the boards, 45-38. The maroon and gold saw 13 points from both Essence Baucom and Shay Burnett, while Lauren Brown followed with 12 points. Malaya Johnson posted a team-high nine rebounds and tallied four blocks.
Scouting the Pride
Hofstra is 10-2 on the season after winning five of its last six games, including a 58-49 final in the team’s CAA opener against Delaware. The Pride leads the league in scoring defense, holding opponents to 55.5 points per game, and ranks fourth in scoring offense with 66.7 ppg, while owning a positive 11.2 scoring margin. On the boards, Hofstra leads the conference in rebounding defense (35.4) and is second in rebounding offense (41.0) along with a positive 5.6 rebounding margin. Preseason all-conference first team selection Ashunae Durant, who was named the 2015 CAA Rookie of the Year, is close to averaging a double-double with 11.8 points and a league-high 9.9 boards per game. Junior Kelly Loftus leads the Pride and ranks 10th in the conference with 13.9 ppg.
Elon and Hofstra have only played twice before with both meetings coming during last year’s regular season. The Pride claimed a 55-53 win in Alumni Gym on Feb. 15 before Elon returned the favor with a road win, 64-58, in Hempstead, N.Y., on March 1.
Elon is Perfect When…
The Phoenix has a perfect record on the season when holding opponents to shooting between 35-40 percent (4-0), shooting over 70 percent from the free throw line (3-0), in games played on Sunday (4-0) and in games played in the afternoon (6-0).
Elon finished non-conference play this season with a 7-4 record, including a perfect 4-0 at home. The Phoenix averaged 66.9 points per game and held a positive 4.7 mark in the scoring margin, while shooting 39 percent from the field (30 percent from three) and 69 percent from the charity stripe. The maroon and gold also claimed positive marks in the rebounding margin (1.8) and turnover margin (2.3). Elon held an 8.8-7.5 advantage in steals per game and 5.2-3.5 lead in blocks per game.
It’s Good to be Home
The Phoenix has played its last three games over the last three weeks on the road. Elon’s Jan. 8 game against Hofstra is the team’s first game at home since Dec. 19. The maroon and gold has played only one game in Alumni Gym over the last 39 days.
From the Line
Shay Burnett owns an 85 percent mark from the charity stripe this season, which ranks 54th in the NCAA and fourth in the league. The sophomore ranks 36th nationally and first in the CAA in free throw attempts (80) and 15th overall and first in the CAA in free throws made (68).
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 5.3 blocks per game as a team, which ranks 31st nationally and second in the league.
On the Boards
Elon currently ranks third in the conference in rebounds per game (40.92/game). The Phoenix holds a positive 2.2 advantage in the rebounding margin, which is third in the CAA, is fourth in offensive rebounds (14.5/game) and is third in the league in defensive rebounds (26.4/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, 249-202, and averaging 20.75 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 8.7 steals per game, while opponents are managing 7.3, 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 77-61 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 remains home in Alumni Gym to host reigning CAA champion and preseason favorite James Madison in its next game on Sunday, Jan. 10. Tip is set for 2 p.m.