ELON, N.C. – Poise down the stretch from the Elon University women’s basketball team helped the Phoenix earn a 72-61 victory over Hofstra on Thursday night, Feb. 16, inside Alumni Gym to complete the season sweep of the Pride.
Now with a 20-6 record on the season and a 12-2 mark in CAA play, Elon has reached the 20-win mark for just the second time as a Division I program and for the first time under head coach Charlotte Smith, but has won at least 18 games under Smith in four of the last five seasons. The only other occasion Elon reached the 20-win mark was the 2010-11 season, the final season before Smith took over.
Lauren Brown led the Phoenix with a career-high 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-5 from long range. She led Elon’s trio of double-digit scorers and was joined by Jenifer Rhodes with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Malaya Johnson’s 11 points with a team-high seven rebounds. Both Essence Baucom and Shay Burnett missed double digits by one point. Baucom added four assists and two steals while Burnett had five assists and two steals.
Hofstra (10-15, 3-11 CAA) was led by Ashunae Durant, who scored 14 points on the night after tallying just six points in the first half on 3-of-7 shooting. Marianne Kalin also added 13 points and Krystal Luciano added 10 points with eight assists to go with eight turnovers.
Elon caught fire at the start of the game in hitting six of its first eight shots to jump out to a 14-2 lead. Hofstra chipped away throughout the remaining five minutes and came as close as two points at 20-18 with 47 seconds to go in the quarter before Burnett nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give Elon a 23-18 lead after one.
Burnett’s three started a 9-0 for the Phoenix that spanned 4:50 of game action with Hofstra not scoring again until the 5:11 mark of the second quarter. Leading by 11 after the run, Elon went cold from the floor with a drought of 5:39 and Hofstra responded with an 8-0 run of its own to cut the lead to three at 29-26 with 1:57 to go. Rhodes jumper with 1:29 left in the half ended the scoreless stretch and Elon closed the half with a 33-29 lead.
Out of halftime, Elon slowly extended the lead from four to 10 at 49-39 with 2:32 to play in the third. The Pride did close the third quarter on a 7-2 run, though, that was capped by a putback from Durant, which cut the Phoenix lead to just five at 51-46 with 10 minutes to play.
Through the fourth quarter, Hofstra cut Elon’s lead all the way down to two at 59-57 with 2:58 to play. But that was as close as the Pride would come after Burnett and Brown combined for three free throws to make it 62-57. Nineteen seconds later, a double technical was issued to the Hofstra bench with 1:41 to play and Brown hit 3-of-4 free throws to make it an eight-point game at 65-57. With Elon keeping the ball, Johnson hit a layup and was fouled by Kalin, her disqualifying fifth foul of the night. With the Pride taking an extended amount of time to sub in her replacement, it was issued another technical and Johnson knocked down more free throws to extend the Elon lead to 11 at 68-57 with 1:31 to go that ultimately sealed the win for the Phoenix.
– In the final 2:44, Elon hit nine free throws to clinch the victory. The nine free throws represented nine of the final 13 points Elon scored.
– Each of Elon’s previous three wins over the Pride before Thursday night came by an average of six points with the largest coming last time out in New York on Jan. 29 when Elon won by 11 at 64-53.
– Prior to Thursday’s game, Lauren Brown had scored 20-plus points once before this season, notching 25 in a 10-point loss to Wake Forest on Nov. 26.
– Hitting 7-of-8 free throws on the night, Brown tied her career high for made free throws.
– Elon’s starters scored 70 of the 72 points in the game. Lenaira Ruffin, one of six players off the bench for the Phoenix, hit two free throws to represent the only bench points for the Phoenix.
– Elon outscored Hofstra 30-18 in the paint. It it held a 20-6 margin down low at halftime.
-The Phoenix outrebounded Hofstra 37-29. It marked the second game in a row Elon did not pull down at least 40 boards in a game after doing so in 14 of the previous 16 games.
– Before Thursday’s game, Elon honored Shay Burnett and Jenfier Rhodes for reaching the 1,000-career point milestones.
Elon will remain at home on Sunday, Feb. 19, for a 2 p.m. tip against William & Mary. Prior to the game, the Phoenix will honor its seniors – Essence Baucom, Lauren Brown, Jenifer Rhodes, Lenaira Ruffin and Maddie McCallie.