MT. PLEASANT, Mich. – Rookie Jada Graves had a season-high 20 points off the bench while Jenifer Rhodes added a season-best 17 as the Elon University women’s basketball team closed out its weekend at the Preseason WNIT with a 71-57 victory over host Central Michigan on Saturday night, Nov. 19, at McGuirk Arena.
Graves led the team in scoring for the second straight game while also knocking 4-of-5 from behind the arc. Rhodes nearly had a double-double for the Phoenix (3-1) as she also corralled nine rebounds for her second game scoring in double figures. Overall, the Phoenix shot over 52 percent for the game (28-for-53) while knocking down over 50 percent of its treys (9-for-17).
Central Michigan’s (1-2) Cassie Breen had a game-high 21 points for the Chippewas while Jewel Cotton scored 16 off the bench with a team-best eight boards. Elon held the Chippewas to just over 40 percent from the field (20-for-49) while CMU went only 4-for-18 from behind the three-point line.
Elon got off to a quick start in the game, scoring the first nine points of the contest. After a Rhodes jump hook near the 7:39 mark, CMU called an early timeout down 9-0 to the Phoenix. The Chippewas would eventually get on the scoreboard at the six-minute mark, but the Phoenix answered with a Lauren Brown three-pointer that put the maroon and gold ahead 12-2. Central Michigan battled to bring the score below double-digits, but Rhodes’ layup with just seconds left gave Elon the 10-point advantage after the first, 25-15.
Both teams traded baskets back and forth during the first five minutes of the second quarter. A couple of baskets by Malaya Johnson at the 4:22 mark and Graves at the 2:56 mark forced CMU to a timeout down 12, 34-22. After Breen knocked down a three to bring the Chippewas’ deficit to single digits, 34-25, at the 2:26 mark, Elon’s Meme Garner responded back with a three of her own with 39 seconds left in the half. Shay Burnett ended the first half with a layup at the buzzer to take a 14-point lead into the break for the maroon and gold, 39-25.
The Phoenix began the second half on an 8-2 run that forced another timeout by the Chippewas at the 7:34 mark down 20, 47-27. CMU went on a 7-2 run after the break, but Garner knocked down her second three of the contest at the 5:22 mark that ballooned the lead back to 17, 52-35, at the 4:13 media timeout. Central Michigan however finished the quarter on a 9-3 run to cut the Phoenix’s lead to 12 heading into the fourth down 55-43.
In the fourth, CMU twice brought its deficit down to 10 twice with the last coming at the 7:51 mark after a layup by Tinara Moore made the score 57-47. After Rhodes added a free throw to put the Phoenix up 58-47, Elon closed out the remainder of the contest on an 13-9 run including three straight treys by Graves that sealed the 71-57 victory and a 2-0 weekend.
• Johnson knocked down a three pointer in the second quarter, only the second of her career.
• Elon’s victory was its second of the season versus a team that reached the postseason a year ago as both Rutgers and Central Michigan reached the WNIT last season.
• Johnson also had eight rebounds and a pair of blocks during the game for the Phoenix. Shay Burnett led the Phoenix with a pair of steals as the Phoenix forced 12 turnovers.
• The Phoenix shot over 55 percent in the first half (15-of-27) and 50 percent from downtown (5-for-10).
Elon is back in action on Tuesday, Nov. 22, hosting Bucknell at Alumni Gym. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.