ELON, N.C. – After a thrilling win in the final seconds of its last game, the Elon women’s basketball team (9-4, 2-0 CAA) returns to Alumni Gym to host reigning CAA champion and preseason favorite James Madison (8-5, 1-1 CAA) on Sunday, Jan. 10, in a 2 p.m. tip. 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
Trailing by one with seven seconds remaining, Shay Burnett went to the line and converted two clutch free throws to put the Phoenix ahead by one. Hofstra advanced the ball and got a shot off but was not able to score, giving Elon the 61-60 final victory on Friday. The Phoenix finished 23-of-62 from the field to shoot 37 percent on the night, including 26 points in the paint, but was held to 2-of-13 from beyond the arc, while shooting 72 percent from the line (13-of-18). Burnett led the maroon and gold with 18 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double to go along with three assists. Jenifer Rhodes tallied 13 points after a 6-of-12 performance from the field. Malaya Johnson finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks for a strong overall performance, while Lauren Brown also finished in double figures with 11 points after hitting both of Elon’s threes.
Scouting the Dukes
James Madison is the two-time reigning CAA champion and was picked as the favorite by the league’s head coaches prior to the start of the season. The Dukes faced steep competition in non-conference play and enter Sunday’s game with an 8-5 overall record and a 1-1 mark in the CAA after a 83-61 win over College of Charleston on Friday. JMU is the conference’s top scoring offense, posting 71.3 points per game, and is second in scoring defense, holding opponents to 56.0 points per game. Part of the Dukes’ strong defense comes from defending beyond the arc as the team is first in the nation in three-point field goal defense. CAA Preseason Player of the Year Jazmon Gwathmey leads the team and the league in scoring with 18.8 points per game followed closely by Ashley Perez (16.3 ppg) who ranks second in the conference and ninth nationally in three-point field goals per game (3.15/game).
Elon and James Madison have met three times previously with all contests taking place last season. The Dukes won all three games with two victories coming during the regular season and the other in the semifinal of the CAA Championship. The Phoenix fell just short of knocking off top-seed JMU, 63-60, as the Dukes went on to win its second straight CAA title.
Elon is Perfect When…
The Phoenix has a perfect record on the season when holding opponents to shooting between 35-40 percent (5-0), shooting over 70 percent from the free throw line (4-0), in games played on Sunday (4-0) and in games played in the afternoon (6-0).
From the Line
Shay Burnett owns an 85 percent mark from the charity stripe this season, which ranks 50th in the NCAA and fourth in the league. The sophomore ranks 25th nationally and first in the CAA in free throw attempts (89) and 14th overall and first in the CAA in free throws made (76).
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 Buccaneers 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 34th nationally and second in the league.
On the Boards
Elon currently ranks third in the conference in rebounds per game (40.77/game). The Phoenix holds a positive 1.9 advantage in the rebounding margin, which is fourth in the CAA, is fourth in offensive rebounds (14.5/game) and is third in the league in defensive rebounds (26.2/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, 264-214, and averaging 20.3 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 8.1 steals per game, while opponents are managing 7.2, and ranks fourth 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 78-61 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 48-15 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 under Smith.
The next game for the Phoenix comes on the road at Towson on Friday, Jan. 15, in Towson, Md. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in SECU Arena.