HARRISONBURG, Va. – The Elon women’s basketball team once again gave James Madison all it could handle as the Phoenix fell just short, 73-72, today, Feb. 28, in the JMU Convocation Center. Elon had the ball with 14 seconds left and was able to get a shot off before it was blocked by the Dukes as time expired.
“We put up a shot and got a rebounding opportunity but just were not able to finish,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I’m very proud of my team’s effort. I felt like we competed for 40 minutes. There are some things we could do better down the stretch in terms of defensive strategy, but overall, I felt like we played a complete game.”
The Phoenix (17-11, 10-7 CAA) went 28-of-62 to shoot 44 percent from the field, hitting only one basket from long distance (1-of-9), but scored 48 points in the paint and saw 31 points from its bench. Elon also finished 75 percent from the line after hitting 15-of-20 attempts. The two teams finished even on the boards 41-all.
Shay Burnett tallied her third straight double-double, and ninth of the season, after 12 points and a game-high 11 boards, while also handing out five assists. Jenifer Rhodes led the team with 17 points after a 7-of-12 performance from the field and Essence Baucom finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Dukes (22-5, 15-1), who already clinched the league’s regular-season title, shot 37 percent on the day after going 24-of-65 from the field, including 7-of-20 from three (35 percent), and 18-of-24 from the charity stripe (75 percent). Jazmon Gwathmey led all players with 26 points after going 10-of-22 from the field followed by 14 points from Angela Mickens and 13 by Ashley Perez. The win capped a perfect 14-0 season at home for JMU.
After a three by Maddie McCallie off a pass from Baucom, McCallie stole the ball and got it to Baucom for a layup to put the Phoenix up 7-6 at the 7:16 mark. With the game tied at 13-all, JMU used a 10-2 run to take a 23-15 lead with 2:03 remaining. Baskets by Rhodes and Nikki McDonald helped the maroon and gold pull within four, 25-21, as the period ended.
Rhodes quickly made it a two-point game, 25-23, in the second period with a jumper 20 seconds in. The Dukes would lead by no more than seven as back-to-back jumpers by Baucom and McDonald gave the Phoenix the lead, 39-38, with 1:13 left in the half. JMU’s Gwathmey hit a three with two second remaining to put the Dukes in front, 41-39, at the break.
In the third period, a Burnett layup tied the game at 41-all in the first minute as the period saw four ties by the 3:09 mark. Back-to-back layups by Autumn Carter in the final 1:18 of the frame put the Phoenix back in front, 57-54.
JMU regained the advantage, 58-57, at the 8:13 mark before a 5-0 run by the maroon and gold made it a 62-58 game. The score became tied four more times before four straight by the Dukes put them in front, 71-67, with 3:27 left to play. A Rhodes layup from Burnett with 2:41 on the clock brought the Phoenix back within two before a McDonald jumper put Elon in front, 73-72.
With JMU leading, 73-72, the Dukes missed two opportunities under its basket as Burnett grabbed the rebound with 23 ticks left, leading to the final offensive possession.
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.