ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team rallied from as much as a 10-point deficit to lead the game with eight seconds left in regulation but eventually fell in a heartbreaker to reigning Colonial Athletic Association champion James Madison, 81-76, in overtime today, Jan. 10, in Alumni Gym.
In overtime, JMU claimed a three-point advantage, 75-72, with 1:55 on the clock before two made free throws and a jumper by Lauren Brown gave Elon the lead, 76-75, with 1:10 remaining. The Dukes answered with a Jazmon Gwathmey basket to regain the edge with under a minute to play as Elon was forced to foul on the ensuing possessions. The Phoenix had a chance with eight seconds left, down by three, 79-76, but missed the shot, allowing JMU to grab the ball and finish out the game.
The Phoenix (9-5, 2-1 CAA) shot 43 percent from the field after a 27-of-63 performance that included 38 points in the paint. Elon was held to an 18 percent mark from the field (3-of-17) and finished 68 percent from line (19-of-28).
Jenifer Rhodes led the maroon and gold with a career-high matching 20 points after eight field goals and had five rebounds followed by Malaya Johnson with 12 points, six boards and three assists. Shay Burnett, who was limited to 17 minutes of play and fouled out with over six minutes left in regulation, tallied 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Brown went a perfect 6-for-6 in free throws to help finish with 11 points.
The Dukes (9-5, 2-1 CAA) went 27-of-77 from the field to shoot 35 percent and finished 22 percent from three (4-of-18). JMU hit 23-of-27 attempts from the charity stripe for an 85 percent mark and claimed the advantage on the boards, 57-34, including 30 offensive rebounds. League-leader Gwathmey posted a game-high 24 points off seven field goals and went 10-of-12 from the line. Ashley Perez finished with 18 points, while Kayla Cooper-Williams had 15 boards and eight points.
“I feel like I’m pretty pleased with our inside play today,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We got the ball inside, capitalized on those opportunities and did a good job of scoring in the paint. The game probably would have taken a turn if we controlled the things that we can control. I felt like we weren’t as good defensively as we’ve been previously and we have to box out.”
Rhodes got Elon off to a 4-0 start in the first period as the defense held the Dukes without a field goal until the 6:19 mark. JMU moved in front, 12-6, off a 12-2 run before Rhodes broke the Phoenix scoring drought with 3:36 remaining. The Dukes managed to close out the frame with an eight-point advantage, 17-9.
JMU led by as much 10 twice in the second period as a three by Savannah Felgemacher made it a 28-19 game with 5:22 on the clock. Brown hit Elon’s first basket from long distance at the 1:49 mark followed by a fast-break layup by Essence Baucom, capping an 8-of-8 field goal streak for the maroon and gold and pulling the Phoenix within four, 37-33, with 1:01 remaining. After a made field goal by JMU in the final minute, Elon trailed by just five, 38-33, at the break.
The Dukes returned to a 10-point lead, 43-33, to begin the third period before a three by Burnett along with an old-fashioned three-point play brought the maroon and gold back within seven, 47-40, with 5:38 to play. With 3:50 on the clock, Baucom went to the line to shoot two, making the first and missing the second but was able to get her hands on the ball for a layup to bring the team within five, 50-45. After a defensive stop on the other end, Brown found Nikki McDonald under the basket to make it a three-point game, 50-47, at the 2:54 mark.
After sitting on the bench with four fouls, Burnett hit a three with 8:55 on the clock in the fourth period to make it a 54-51 game. A Rhodes layup put the Phoenix within one, 54-53, 44 seconds later before JMU responded to move back ahead by six, 59-53. Baskets by Rhodes and McDonald helped keep the maroon and gold within one as two made free throws by Brown gave Elon its first lead since the 6:56 mark in the first, 62-61, with under three minutes to go.
The Phoenix took as much as a three-point lead on two occasions as the Dukes were forced to foul. After two made free throws by McCallie made it a 68-65 Elon lead with 15 seconds remaining, Gwathmey was fouled on a three attempt with seven ticks left, making all three to tie the game at 68-all. The maroon and gold called a timeout to advance the ball but was unable to make the shot, sending the game into overtime.
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.