NEWARK, Del. – Elon University women’s basketball clinched one of the top two seeds in the CAA Tournament with a 57-48 victory over Delaware on Friday, Feb. 24, inside the Bob Carpenter Center.
“I’m glad that we were able to pull out the win tonight because we did not play our best basketball,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “It’s always gratifying when you don’t play your best to still come out with the win. When we got the ball inside to Jenifer Rhodes I thought we did a really good job. We got away from that late, but its good to see we can still win even when we might not be at our best.”
Tied atop the CAA standings with James Madison, Elon and JMU are guaranteed the top two seeds with the results Friday. The two teams are 14-2 in conference play with two games to go. JMU defeated Drexel Friday night to remain tied with the Phoenix.
Essence Baucom and Jenifer Rhodes each led Elon with 11 points apiece and Baucom had four assists. Malaya Johnson also added nine points with seven rebounds in 30 minutes of action while Shay Burnett finished with eight points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Delaware’s Erika Brown led the way for the Blue Hens with 14 points and seven rebounds. Nicole Enabosi also finished in double figures with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Hannah Jardine scored nine points on the day with seven rebounds. The three accounted for 35 of UD’s 48 points.
From the opening tip, Elon slowly and methodically kept Delaware at an arm’s length. Rhodes opened the game with a layup just 12 seconds in and while Jardine hit a three-pointer to make it 5-4 Blue Hens at the 7:09 mark, Brown answered with a jumper 20 seconds later that keyed an 8-0 Elon run to put the Phoenix up 12-5 with 4:05 left in the first quarter.
Taking an 18-12 lead to the second, the two teams traded buckets most of the frame until the final 2:13 when Burnett and Ra’Shika White combined for five points to take Elon’s lead from five at 29-24 to 10 at 34-24 at halftime. Helping Elon extend its lead was the defensive effort that saw Delaware hit just one field goal in the final five minutes of the quarter.
The third quarter saw both teams go cold from the floor with Elon only hitting 3-of-13 shots and Delaware knocking down 5-of-14. Both teams scored 10 points with the two combining for 12 in the opening three minutes of the quarter. Delaware went 6:12 without points in the middle of the quarter and Elon went the final 5:20 of the frame without points after Jada Graves hit two free throws to make it 44-30.
In the fourth, Delaware extended its brief run to 6-0 early on but White knocked down a free throw with 7:50 left to end Elon’s scoreless run at 7:30 of game action. With a Jardine triple, Delaware cut Elon’s lead to seven at 47-40 with 5:17 to play, but Rhodes hit back-to-back layups with 4:16 to play to end Elon’s field goal drought at 12:07.
Down the stretch, Delaware continued to cut into Elon’s lead and came as close as five with 1:40 to play after a Brown layup, but Elon then went on a 6-0 run to lead by 11 again with 28 seconds to play after three free throws from Baucom and one from Johnson.
– Elon’s 14 wins in CAA play ties the most in a conference season for the Phoenix in 18 years of Division I basketball. It matches the team’s 14 victories in Southern Conference play back in 2012-13, head coach Charlotte Smith’s second season at the helm of the program.
– As Elon built its lead throughout the first half, Delaware shot 7-for-30 (23.3 percent) while Elon knocked down 14-of-33 (42.4 percent).
– Delaware’s 48 points marks the fourth time this year Elon has allowed less than 50 points in CAA play. Over the course of the previous two years in the conference, the Phoenix had allowed less than 50 points on five total occasions.
– In each of Elon’s last three wins over Delaware, the Blue Hens have not scored more than 48 points in a game and have averaged 45 points per game in the three meetings.
Elon will play its final road game of the 2016-17 regular season on Sunday afternoon when it takes on Towson at SECU Arena. Opening tip is set for 2 p.m. Earlier this month, Elon beat Towson 83-55 at Alumni Gym, tying the program’s largest CAA win to date.