MT. PLEASANT, Mich. – A 27-point outburst in the second quarter helped the Elon University women’s basketball team to a 76-55 victory over Eastern Washington on Friday evening, Nov. 18, at the Preseason WNIT in McGuirk Arena.
Rookie Jada Graves led a balanced attack for the Phoenix (2-1) with her season-high 13 points off the bench to go with four rebounds and a pair of steals. Fellow frosh Ra’Shika White had 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds while Jenifer Rhodes also had a double-digit scoring performance with 10 points. As a team, the Phoenix shot just over 38 percent from behind the three-point line (8-for-21) while holding the Eagles (0-2) to only a 25 percent clip from beyond the arc (4-for-16).
Delaney Higgins was the lone player for Eastern Washington to crack double figures with 13 points while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. She also tied the team-lead for rebounds with six along with Ashli Payne, who also contributed nine points to her stat line.
Elon opened the game with a quick five points on a Malaya Johnson layup and a Lauren Brown three-pointer by the seven-minute mark. Eastern Washington answered with a 10-0 run going into the media timeout before Burnett snapped the Phoenix’s scoreless drought with a free throw at 4:06 left in the quarter. Elon held the Eagles to only one field for the remainder of the opening period, tying the contest at 12-all on Maddie McCallie’s triple with 42 seconds left. A free throw by Essence Baucom with 15 seconds remaining gave the maroon and gold the lead to close out the quarter, 13-12.
A 9-3 run to start the second quarter pushed Elon to an eight-point lead after a Rhodes layup just after the seven-minute mark. EWU brought it back down to four after a pair of free throws to make it 23-19 at the 5:59 mark, but a three by Brown eight seconds later sparked a 7-2 run over the next three minutes to push the lead for the Phoenix back to nine, 30-21. The Eagles cut their deficit back to six at the 2:13 mark, but the Phoenix closed out the half on an 8-0 run to head into the locker room ahead 40-26.
The lead ballooned to 20 after the maroon and gold opened the second half with a 6-0 run in the first two minutes. Elon’s advantage got no lower than 15, which occurred around the 4:24 mark after an EWU layup, but a layup by Baucom followed by a triple from Lexi Mercer put the Phoenix back in front by 20, 57-37. The Eagles went on a 5-1 run to close out the quarter, but faced a 58-42 disadvantage going into the final period.
The Phoenix took control of the game with a 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter and led by 25 after White knocked down a pair of free throws at the 5:51 mark in the quarter. The lead would get as large as 26 points after Graves knocked down her second three-pointer of the game with just over a minute remaining. The Eagles scored a couple of baskets during the final minute of garbage time to lower its deficit to 21, but Elon easily took the 76-55 victory.
• All but one of the Phoenix’s 12 players scored in the contest. Nearly every Elon player played 10 or more minutes in the game.
• White had two blocks for the Phoenix while Graves, Meme Garner and Shay Burnett also contributed to the Phoenix’s block total (five) with one each.
• Elon’s 76-point total was its highest offensive outburst on the young season and the most since scoring 74 at William & Mary last March.
• The Phoenix’s defense stymied Eastern Washington’s offensive attack, holding the Eagles to just under 33 percent shooting overall (20-for-61). The maroon and gold also forced 18 turnovers with Baucom contributing with three steals.
The Phoenix closes out its stay in the Preseason WNIT with a contest tomorrow, Nov. 19, versus host Central Michigan. The game will tipoff at 7 p.m.