ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team (15-8, 8-4 CAA) looks to extend its current winning streak to four when its hosts Northeastern (9-14. 4-8 CAA) in its annual Play 4Kay game on Sunday, Feb. 14. Tip is set for 2 p.m. in Alumni Gym. 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 built a 16-point advantage in the first quarter and soared to an 80-58 CAA victory over visiting Towson in its last game on Friday. The Phoenix shot a season-high 49.2 percent from the field, sinking 30 of its 61 shots. The maroon and gold netted 42 of its 80 points in the paint. Elon was able to turn 20 Towson turnovers into 31 points and got 30 points off its bench. The Phoenix added 16 points on 25 free throw attempts. Elon was paced by Shay Burnett who scored 19 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists. Essence Baucom finished with 15 points, two shy of matching her personal best, and four assists. Malaya Johnson also finished in double figures and narrowly missed her fourth double-double of the year as she scored 11 points and pulled down nine boards.
Scouting the Huskies
Northeastern is coming off a 72-66 win at UNCW Friday night with the help of four players scoring in double figures, including 26 points from Samantha DeFreese who went 10-of-13 from the field and had a double double. Northeastern has won two of its last three with the loss coming by nine at league-leader James Madison. DeFreese leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 14.1 points and 8.3 boards per game and ranks fifth and third in the conference, respectively, in those categories. Gabby Giacone posts 8.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game followed by rookie Jess Genco, who averages the second most minutes in the NCAA, and scores 8.3 points per outing.
Elon and Northeastern have met three times previously with the Phoenix claiming the win each time but only by a combined total of six points. Recently, Elon claimed a 56-54 comeback victory on Jan. 29 in Boston. With three seconds on the clock, Shay Burnett found an open Nikki McDonald under the basket for a layup that put the Phoenix over the Huskies. The maroon and gold won the first meeting in Alumni Gym on Jan. 25, 2015, in the form of an 80-77 overtime final. A few weeks later on Feb. 19, 2015, the Phoenix hit a jumper with two seconds remaining for a 74-73 win in Boston.
Play 4Kay, formerly known as WBCA Pink Zone, is an initiative that allows a nation of coaches to raise awareness and funds for cancer research on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond. The official charity is the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. The late Kay Yow, former Elon and NC State University head women’s basketball coach, served as the catalyst for Play 4Kay after her third recurrence of breast cancer in 2006. Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and passed away in January 24, 2009. The cause is especially close to the Phoenix as Yow was the first head coach of the women’s basketball program, as well as the volleyball program, and served in that role for four years.
Elon assistant coach Cristy McKinney played for Kay Yow at NC State from 1976-79. McKinney scored 1,359 career points and grabbed 600 rebounds for Yow and the Wolfpack. As a player at North Carolina, Elon head coach Charlotte Smith took the hardwood against Yow on several occasions.
The Phoenix shot a season high 49.2 percent against Towson on Feb. 12. Elon finished 30-of-61 from the field for the mark and tallied 42 points in the paint in its 80-58 victory. Prior to that the maroon and gold shot 48 percent in its Feb. 5 game against William & Mary. Elon went 26-of-54 from the field against the Tribe, including six buckets from long distance for 38 percent, and tallied 32 points in the paint.
Did you know that Shay Burnett’s game winner at Delaware on Feb. 7 was feature on ESPN’s SportsCenter as one of the top plays? Watch the highlight here.
Elon in Overtime
After its overtime game at Delaware on Feb. 7, Elon is now 17-11 all-time in overtime games and 1-3 when the overtime goes past one period. The Phoenix has played three overtime games this season, two of which have gone to double overtime. The maroon and gold fell in double overtime at Navy on Nov. 24 and to James Madison in single overtime on Jan. 10 before winning its first OT game of the season against the Blue Hens. The team’s double overtime game at Navy on Nov. 24 marked the first time Elon played more than one overtime period since a four overtime game against Western Carolina in 2008.
From the Line
Shay Burnett owns an 80 percent mark from the charity stripe this season, which ranks third in the league. The sophomore ranks 45th nationally and first in the CAA in free throw attempts (131) and 34th overall and first in the CAA in free throws made (105). As a team, Elon leads the league in both free throw attempts (483) and free throws made (333), which ranks 62nd and 65th in the NCAA, respectively.
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 4.4 blocks per game as a team, which ranks 62nd nationally and fifth in the league.
On the Boards
Elon currently ranks second in the conference in rebounds per game (42.32/game). The Phoenix holds a positive 2.7 rebounding margin, which is third in the CAA, is second in offensive rebounds (15.2/game) and is second in the league in defensive rebounds (27.2/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, 485-342, and averaging 21.1 points per game.
Elon is Perfect When…
The Phoenix has a perfect record on the season in games played on Saturday (3-0).
Head Coach Charlotte Smith
Elon head coach Charlotte Smith is in her fifth season with the Phoenix and owns an 84-65 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 52-16 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.
Elon travels to Charleston, S.C., to take on College of Charleston in an 11:30 a.m. tip on Friday, Feb. 19.