ELON, N.C. – Elon University women’s basketball won its Colonial Athletic Association opener Monday, Jan. 2, in a 70-57 victory over College of Charleston to earn its fifth-straight victory.
“We talked about two key things for this game: defense and rebounding,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We did a great job defensively in the second half and offensively we got the ball inside. When we missed, we rebounded our shots for second chances. This was a good start for us to conference play and now we’ll put our focus on Friday night and Drexel.”
Malaya Johnson led the Phoenix with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor. She missed a double-double by one rebound, finishing with nine boards and three blocks. Lauren Brown chipped in 15 points with three assists in 31 minutes while Shay Burnett notched 10 points – all in the first half – with a game-high seven assists.
Charleston was led by Breanna Bolden’s game-high 23 points. She also pulled down nine rebounds for the Cougars to go with four assists and three steals. Tanisha Brown was the only other player in double figures with 11 points. Brianna Boyd finished with a game-high 10 rebounds and added eight points.
Elon has now won its CAA opener in each of its three seasons in the conference. The Phoenix defeated Delaware in its inaugural CAA campaign and topped UNCW last season to open conference action. Monday’s game marked the program’s first CAA opener at home in program history.
After opening the game hitting 4-of-5 from the floor, including two three-pointers by Burnett, Elon went cold and hit just one of its final 10 shots in the quarter as Charleston went on a 10-2 run in the final 5:22 of the quarter in going up 22-14 after one.
The Phoenix responded quickly, though, in the second quarter by hitting each of its first nine shots. In all, Elon went on a 20-2 run to open the quarter and turned an eight-point deficit into a 10-point lead at 34-24 after a Brown three-pointer with 5:18 left in the half. Outscoring Charleston 24-8 in the quarter, Elon took an eight-point lead at 38-30 into the locker room at half.
Bolden opened the third quarter with a three-pointer as Charleston cut the Elon lead to five, but the Phoenix went on a 10-2 run to take a 14-point lead at 48-34 with 6:59 to go in the third quarter.
Leading by nine heading to the fourth at 53-44 after Charleston cut the lead back to single-digits down the stretch in the third, Elon went on an 11-0 run to go from owning a 53-46 lead to a 64-46 advantage. The 18-point lead with 6:32 to play was the largest lead of the night for the Phoenix and though CofC tried to chip away again, it never came closer than 11 points with 1:28 to play.
– Elon’s five-game winning streak is best run for the Phoenix since the 2012-13 season when Elon went on a six-game winning streak from Jan. 5 to Jan. 20. The final win during the streak came in a 63-56 triumph over the Cougars in Charleston when both schools were members of the Southern Conference.
– The 16-point margin in the second quarter is the second-largest positive margin in a single quarter for the Phoenix this season. On Dec. 22, Elon outscored Georgia State by 20 points in the first quarter (27-7) on the way to an 84-67 victory in Atlanta.
– Elon had 10 assists on 17 buckets in the first half of the game. If finished with 17 assists on 31 field goals in the game.
– Lenaria Ruffin tied her career high with eight rebounds on the night.
– Burnett has now recorded a season-high seven assists in two of her last three games against Charleston and Georgia State.
The Phoenix will head back out on the road for a 7 p.m. contest at Drexel on Friday, Jan. 6. In four meetings against Drexel to date, Elon has never topped the Dragons after dropping both meetings last season.