ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team unofficially began its 2016-17 season in impressive fashion with a 74-42 final against Wingate today, Oct. 29, in Alumni Gym in its lone exhibition game of the season.
The Phoenix finished 30-of-72 from the field for a 42 percent mark, while hitting nine threes, scoring 34 points in the paint and 27 points off turnovers. The Bulldogs were held to 24.5 percent from the field (13-of-53) and only scored 12 points in the paint, while turning the ball over 19 times. Elon dominated on the glass, 53-31, and held a 20-4 advantage in second-chance points.
Shay Burnett led the way for the maroon and gold after a double-double with 20 points and 11 boards to go along with four assists and six steals. The Preseason All-CAA First Team selection went 8-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from three. Jenifer Rhodes, a preseason honorable mention selection, also tallied a double-double after 10 points and a game-high 12 boards. Malaya Johnson tallied another 11 points and four assists for Elon, while rookie Ra’Shika White made her presence known on defense with three blocks. The Phoenix saw baskets from nine of the 10 players that played in the game, including 25 points from the bench.
Wingate was led by eight points from Zasha Barrett and four boards from both Danasia Witherspoon and Alex Tomlinson.
It was exciting to get out today and play some competition other than ourselves,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “Kudos to Wingate. They are a very good team. They did a lot of things that we can take a look on the film and learn from to be a better team as we progress. I feel like we did a lot of good things out there. Of course, defensively, there are a lot of things that we need to fine tune. But as far as the offense is concerned, I saw a lot of good things today and I think we’ll just keep getting better as we practice more and get the chemistry flowing.”
The Phoenix started the game on a 9-2 run with the help of six points by Johnson. Elon quickly extended the lead to 16, 20-4, with less than a minute left in the stanza after a jumper by Rhodes, leading 23-7 to end the first period.
Maddie McCallie put the maroon and gold up by as much as 22 in the second period, 35-13, after a pass from Burnett led to a layup with 5:30 on the clock. The Bulldogs managed a 7-0 run before a three by Burnett at the 2:48 mark made it 38-21. At the break, Elon led Wingate, 38-23, after two good free throws by the Bulldogs in the final minute.
With 5:38 on the clock in the third period, Johnson completed an old-fashioned three-point play followed by a Meme Garner three to make it a 51-27 lead. A jumper by Essence Baucom with two ticks left in the frame made it a 61-30 Elon advantage.
In the final period, two fast-break baskets by the Phoenix by Burnett and Rhodes helped extend the lead to 39, 71-32, with 5:03 left in the game. Wingate claimed eight points in the final five minutes but it was too much too late as the maroon and gold closed out the 32-point win.
The Phoenix officially opens the season on Friday, Nov. 11, at Green Bay as part of the Preseason WNIT. Tip is set for 8 p.m. (EST) in Green Bay, Wis.