DURHAM, N.C. – The Elon women’s basketball team could not sustain a second-half surge from 21st-ranked Duke, as the Phoenix dropped a hard-fought 68-61 decision on Thursday, Dec. 8, inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Elon (4-4) narrowed the Duke (10-1) lead down to two points early in the third period, but the Blue Devils closed the third period on a 17-6 run to hold on to a 53-37 lead going into the fourth. The Phoenix chipped away at the Duke lead down the stretch to bring it back down to single digits, but the nationally ranked Blue Devils held on for the win.
“I am proud of the effort that our team put forth tonight,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “The two things we talked about that we wanted to focus on in this game were defense and rebounding. We accomplished that on the boards, tying the boards 39-39, so we did a really good job there. For the most part throughout the game, I felt we did a good job defensively, so I am just really proud of our team tonight.”
With the loss, the all-time series between Elon and Duke is now even at four wins apiece.
The night was special for Elon senior guard Maddie McCallie, who became just the third player in NCAA women’s basketball history to play a game against her mother. Maddie’s mother is Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie.
“At first, it was a little strange but as we got warmed up and the game started it really kind of felt like just another game,” Maddie said after the game. “But it was obviously fun to play in Cameron.”
Following her CAA Rookie of the Week accolade on Monday, freshman Ra’Shika White turned in another solid performance for the Phoenix with a team- and season-high 19 points. White went 7-of-14 from the floor to go along with seven boards in 28 minutes and was the lone Elon player in double figures.
On a night in which she tallied her 1,000th career points, Duke’s Lexie Brown finished with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and an 8-for-8 performance at the free throw line.
Elon and Duke finished tied on the boards at 39 apiece and the Phoenix bench outscored its counterparts, 20-19, in the setback.
Elon took a 10-9 lead advantage in the first period when Burnett snagged a missed shot underneath the basket for a wide-open layup to give her squad the lead. But the Blue Devils carried a one-point edge, 13-12, after the first 10 minutes.
Duke opened up a nine-point lead with 4:48 remaining in the second period after an Erin Mathias bucket put the Phoenix down, 25-16, and forced head coach Charlotte Smith to call a timeout.
The Phoenix went scoreless over a six-minute stretch in the second period until a Malaya Johnson bucket limited Duke to a 27-18 lead with 1:12 to play. Despite the scoring draught, the Phoenix went into the locker room down only six points, 29-23. Elon cashed in its offense rebounds in the opening frame, hauling down nine boards off the offensive glass for 10 points. The maroon and gold defense held Duke scoreless over the final 4:51 of the second period.
Elon managed to pull within two points on an old-fashioned three-point play by White early in the third period, but the Blue Devils extended their lead back out to eight to maintain an arm’s length advantage.
Duke jumped out to a 16-point lead following a big run at the end of the third quarter and the Phoenix could not pull within single digits until the final moments.
Following a nine-day break for exams, Elon returns to action on Dec. 17 at East Tennessee State.