ELON, N.C. – Battling back from a 10-point first half deficit, the Elon University women’s basketball team came away with its fourth straight victory with a 64-58 effort against Bucknell on Tuesday night, Nov. 22, inside Alumni Gym.
Elon’s Malaya Johnson led the Phoenix (4-1) with a season-high 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. Lauren Brown joined her in double figures with 11 points while going a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. Shay Burnett nearly had a double-double for the Phoenix with nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Bucknell’s Kaitlyn Slagus posted a double-double with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bison (3-2). Kyi English added 14 while Claire DeBoer rounded out the double-digit scorers for Bucknell with 11.
Both teams started the contest with a sluggish first quarter with both squads going a combined 7-for-34 from the field as the Phoenix trailed 11-10 at the end of the quarter. Elon went on a 5-2 run to start the second to take a four-point lead, 17-13, leading Bucknell to call a timeout at the 6:59 mark. The Bison answered with a 19-5 run for the remainder of the quarter to go into the half ahead 32-22.
After shooting just 30 percent in the opening half, the Phoenix regrouped and fought back into the contest with a 22-9 third quarter. Elon knocked down 50 percent of its shots in the third (7-of-14) while its stifling defense held the Bison to only 1-of-8 in the quarter. After being down by as much as 13 in the quarter, Elon made it one-point game after six consecutive points by Meme Garner had the Phoenix down 41-40 at the 1:05 mark. The Phoenix would finally take the lead on Burnett’s jumper with 29 seconds left, 42-41, and added to its lead with a pair of Brown free throws to go into the final quarter up 44-41.
With the momentum going into the fourth, Elon opened the quarter on a 10-4 run to hold a nine-point advantage, 54-45, with 6:37 left in the game. That lead quickly evaporated as the Bison narrowed its disadvantage down to two, 56-54, after a pair of free throws by English at the 4:04 mark as the Phoenix was working with a multitude of different lineup combinations due to foul trouble. After a free throw by Bucknell’s Sune Swart made the contest a three-point game, 58-55, at the 2:17 mark, Elon reinserted Brown, Garner and Essence Baucom back into the contest to help the Phoenix hang on for its fourth consecutive win, 64-58.
• Johnson’s 18 points were the most points by the junior since scoring 13 in versus Virginia Tech at the WNIT last March.
• The victory was the 91st for Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. She now owns a 91-71 ledger in her coaching career.
• This was the second time this season that the Phoenix trailed at the half. Elon also trailed in its season-opener at Green Bay.
• Elon ended the game shooting 41 percent from the floor (25-for-61). Bucknell shot 32 percent overall (16-for-50), but was 20-of-25 at the free throw line.
The Phoenix will host in-state and ACC foe Wake Forest on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 2 p.m. inside Alumni Gym.