Elon WBB Takes on League-Leader JMU Sunday in Virginia

ELON, N.C. – After winning its final home game on Friday, the Elon women’s basketball team (17-10, 10-6 CAA) looks to take one over league-leader James Madison (21-5, 14-1 CAA) on Sunday, Feb. 28, in Harrisonburg, Va. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.

Last Time Out
Elon entered Friday’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. The Phoenix 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.

Scouting the Dukes
James Madison is the two-time reigning CAA champion and clinched the regular season title for the third straight year with a 77-41 win at UNCW on Friday. Sunday marks the final home game of the season for the Dukes, who look to remain perfect on its home court with a current 13-0 record. JMU is also on a current 14-game winning streak with its only loss of the conference season coming on Jan. 3. The Dukes have one of the best defenses in the country and the best offense in the league. JMU ranks ninth nationally in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a 34.2 percent mark per game, and is third in three-point field goal defense, allowing only a 24.2 percent clip/game. JMU leads the conference in scoring (70.3 points/game) and is second in field goal percentage (38.9 percent). The teams also ranks fourth in the NCAA and first in the CAA in rebounds per game (46.35) and holds a positive 10.5 advantage in the rebound margin. CAA Preseason Player of the Year Jazmon Gwathmey leads the team and the league in scoring with 21.3 points per game followed by Angela Mickens (11.5 ppg) who ranks 16th in the conference. On the boards, Da’Lisha Griffin leads the CAA with 9.9 rebounds/game with Kayla Cooper-Williams hauling down 7.8 per game.

The Series
Elon and James Madison have met four times previously with all contests taking place over the last two seasons. The Dukes won three games last year 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. Earlier this season on Jan. 10, the Dukes escaped Alumni Gym with an 81-76 overtime victory to take a 4-0 advantage in the series.

If the Season Ended Today…
If the regular season ended today, the Phoenix would be the fourth seed in the upcoming 2016 CAA Women’s Basketball Championship. Elon would play fifth-seeded Delaware in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 10, at 2:30 p.m. This year’s tournament returns to the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.

From the Line
Shay Burnett owns an 81 percent mark from the charity stripe this season, which ranks third in the league. The sophomore ranks 57th nationally and first in the CAA in free throw attempts (147) and 35th overall and first in the CAA in free throws made (119). As a team, Elon leads the league in both free throw attempts (538) and free throws made (364), which ranks 48th and 77th in the NCAA, respectively.

Block Party
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 64th nationally and fourth in the league.

On the Boards
Elon currently ranks second in the conference and 26th nationally in rebounds per game (42.56/game). The Phoenix holds a positive 3.4 rebounding margin, which is third in the CAA, is second in offensive rebounds (15.6/game) and is second in the league in defensive rebounds (27.0/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, 571-403, and averaging 21.1 points per game.

Season’s Best
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.

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 86-67 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.

Home-Court Advantage
Alumni Gym has proven to be a tough place to play for opponents under head coach Charlotte Smith. The maroon and gold is 53-18 in Alumni Gym in five seasons under Coach Smith. The Phoenix went 10-3 at home this season after a 10-5 record during the 2014-15 season. The Phoenix has lost no more than five games at home in a season under Smith.

Next Up
Elon closes out the regular season on the road at William & Mary on Wednesday, March 2. Tip is set for 7 p.m. in Williamsburg, Va.