ELON, N.C. – A strong second half took the Elon women’s basketball team to a 70-53 victory over UNCW tonight, Jan. 26, in Alumni Gym. The Phoenix finished with four players in double figures en route to a 36-22 advantage in the second half.
“I felt like we came out with a lot of energy in this game,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “Defensively, our intensity was good. Early on I thought we were really aggressive on offense. We talked about wanting to pound the ball on the inside, because we felt like we had the advantage on the inside, and being aggressive off the bounce and attacking. That afforded us the opportunity to get to the free throw line and generate offense early in the game.”
The Phoenix (11-7, 4-3 CAA) went 24-of-64 from the field to shoot 38 percent, including six threes for a 25 percent mark. The team hit 16-of-19 attempts from the line for 84 percent, marking its second best game from the charity stripe this season. The maroon and gold claimed the advantage on the boards, 48-39, and finished with 30 points in the paint.
Malaya Johnson hit five field goals and went 5-of-6 from the line for a team-high 15 points, hauled down eight rebounds and tallied one assist, block and steal on the night. Essence Baucom and Nikki McDonald followed with 12 points each, while Shay Burnett finished with 11 points and eight boards.
The Seahawks (5-13, 1-6 CAA) shot 34 percent after going 19-of-56 from the field, hitting only one three (14 percent), and went 54 percent from the stripe (14-of-26). Shatia Cole finished with five field goals and nine free throws to led all players with 19 points.
Lauren Brown, McDonald and Lenaira Ruffin all sank threes in the opening period to help the Phoenix shoot 43 percent from long distance, making it a 16-8 lead by the 3:31 mark. Baucom laid one in with three seconds remaining for a 20-13 Elon advantage to end the frame.
The maroon and gold opened the second period on a 9-2 run that was capped by another three from McDonald with 7:16 on the clock. With the Phoenix leading by 13, 33-20, with 2:52 remaining, UNCW managed to close the gap to five to make it a 34-29 game at the break.
The Seahawks came out of the half to make it a two-point game, 36-34, before baskets by Johnson and Jenifer Rhodes put Elon back up by six, 40-34, with 6:19 on the clock. Baucom completed an and-one opportunity to spark an 8-0 run for the maroon and gold for a 50-38 advantage by the 2:08 mark. As the game clock hit all zeros, Baucom got the ball in for a layup once again, making it a 53-43 Elon lead heading into the final period.
With 5:05 remaining in the game a Maddie McCallie three returned the Phoenix to its largest lead of 13, 61-48. Just under three minutes later, McCallie hit another basket from long distance to seal the game for the Phoenix, 68-52, with 2:17 left on the clock.
The Phoenix goes on the road for two straight games, beginning with a 2 p.m. tip on Friday, Jan. 29, at Northeastern in Boston.