ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team entered tonight’s game tied with Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association standings and separated themselves with a strong 62-45 victory over the visiting Blue Hens in Alumni Gym in the maroon and gold’s regular-season home finale.
“We talked about this night being special, wanting to send our seniors out with a bang and making it memorable,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We wanted to come out and make a statement but also give our fans something to be hungry for next season. For the most part, I felt like we were pretty consistent throughout and had a complete game.”
The Phoenix (17-10, 10-6 CAA) finished 22-of-52 from the field to shoot 42.3 percent, including 6-of-14 from beyond the arc for a 43 percent mark. Elon shot a blistering 66.7 percent from long distance in the second half, hitting all six threes after the break. Elon won the advantage on the glass, 43-32, and saw a 33-12 edge in bench points.
Shay Burnett tallied her second straight double-double with a game-high 19 points and another game-high 10 boards. The sophomore finished 5-of-19 from the field (3-of-6 from three) and a perfect 6-for-6 from the line to go with one assists, two blocks and one steal. Lauren Brown followed with nine points, while Essence Baucom had seven points and five assists.
The Blue Hens (14-13, 9-7 CAA) shot 33.3 percent from the field after a 19-of-57 performance and was help without a three in the game (0-of-9). UD was sent to the line 11 times, hitting seven of its attempts. Makeda Nicholas, Sade Chatman and Erika Brown all finished with a team-high eight points in the game, while Nicholas, Chatman and Nicole Enabosi all hauled down six rebounds.
With the game tied four-all in the first period, a bucket by Malaya Johnson sparked an 8-0 run for the Phoenix to take a 12-4 advantage by the 4:54 mark. A long jumper by Autumn Carter, her second of the game, kept the maroon and gold up by six, 18-12, at the end of the frame.
The Blue Hens closed the gap to two, 20-18, with 5:58 to play in the second period before Nikki McDonald grabbed an offensive board for a basket followed by a jumper from Burnett to make it a 24-18 Elon lead with 3:32 on the clock. A Brown free throw with six ticks left gave the Phoenix a four-point lead, 26-22, at the break.
With the maroon and gold still leading by four, 28-24, Burnett hit Elon’s first three of the game to return the advantage to seven at the 6:51 mark. Brown kept the differential at seven, 34-27, with another three almost two minutes later. Delaware was able to cut the deficit to six, 40-34, with four seconds left in the period before Burnett drained her third triple of the half as time expired to make it a 43-34 game heading into the final frame.
In the final period, Burnett blocked a ball at the other end and grabbed the defensive board, getting the ball down the court to Lenaira Ruffin. With a 2-on-1 advantage, Ruffin passed the ball to Brown for a fast-break layup to make it a 46-34 lead. With 6:29 remaining, Maddie McCallie hit a three from the right wing to continue a run for the maroon and gold for a 17-point advantage, 53-46, forcing a UD timeout. Baucom closed out the scoring for the Phoenix, knocking down the team’s sixth trey of the half with 1:29 left.
The win gives Elon a 10-3 overall home record this season…Burnett’s double-double marked the eighth of the season for the sophomore…Elon’s 2016 senior class has compiled a 70-53 overall record over the past four seasons…The Phoenix improves to a 4-0 advantage in the all-time series against Delaware…This was the first game of the last three against the Blue Hens that did not go to overtime.
The Phoenix closes out the regular season in the next five days with two road games, beginning with a tilt at league-leader James Madison on Sunday, Feb. 28. Tip is set for 2 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va.