ELON, N.C. – After being selected second in the Colonial Athletic Association Predicted Order of Finish, the Elon women’s basketball team is ready to get the 2016-17 season underway. In its unofficial start to the year, the Phoenix hosts Wingate in its lone exhibition game on Saturday, Oct. 29, in Alumni Gym at 3 p.m. Admission for the game is free.
Elon finished the 2015-16 season with an 18-13 overall record and an 11-7 mark in the CAA for the second straight year under head coach Charlotte Smith. It also marked the second straight season that the maroon and gold earned an at-large bid to the WNIT.
The Phoenix returns seven very experienced players to the court this year, including four starters – Essence Baucom, Shay Burnett, Malaya Johnson and Maddie McCallie. Smith enters her sixth season at the helm of the program with an 87-70 Elon and career coaching record.
The team welcomes five newcomers to the squad with four freshman and transfer Meme Garner, who will play her first season in the maroon and gold after serving her year-in-residence requirement last year.
Elon’s second-place selection in the league’s preseason poll, which was released on Oct. 25, marked the highest selection for the Phoenix since joining the conference. Burnett earned Preseason All-CAA First Team honors, marking the first conference preseason first team selection for a Phoenix player, while Jenifer Rhodes earned Preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention.
Burnett averaged 12.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game en route to All-CAA First Team honors last year. Rhodes returns for her senior year after posting 8.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game off the bench. Along with the two preseason selections, Johnson brings 8.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game to the frontcourt, while Baucom, a senior point guard, returns her 3.7 assists and 8.3 points per game to the backcourt. Also back for the maroon and gold is senior guard Lauren Brown who averaged 9.1 points last season.
Elon and Wingate have met 43 times previously with the Bulldogs owning the all-time series, 27-16. The teams first played on Nov. 19, 1979, with Elon taking the first eight wins of the series. That last meeting came on March 1, 1997, with Wingate claiming a 71-56 win in the South Atlantic Conference Tournament.
The Bulldogs finished last season with an impressive 21-9 overall record, a SAC tournament championship and an NCAA DII tournament appearance. This season, the Bulldogs returns four of its five starters, including Shelby Tricoli who averaged 10.0 points last season to go with a 41.2 field goal percentage. Wingate also returns its leading rebounder from last season in Danasia Witherspoon who posted 5.1 boards per game.
The Phoenix officially opens the season on Friday, Nov. 11, at Green Bay as part of the Preseason WNIT in an 8 p.m. (EST) tip in Green Bay, Wis. Elon plays its home opener on Monday, Nov. 14, against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers at 5:30 p.m. in Alumni Gym as part of an Elon basketball doubleheader.
To purchase tickets to any of the exciting games in Alumni Gym this season, call the Elon Ticket Office at 336-278-6750.