FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Paced by Shay Burnett’s season-high 23 points, Elon University women’s basketball held off a late Alabama run to earn a 60-55 victory over the Crimson Tide Friday, Nov. 24, in the Puerto Rico Clasico.
Moving to 5-0 on the season, Elon has started a campaign perfect through five games for the first time as a Division I program and just the fourth time in team history. The loss for the Crimson Tide puts Alabama at 4-2, losing both games in the Puerto Rico Clasico to the Phoenix Friday and NC State on Thursday, Nov. 23.
Alabama opened the evening with a 6-0 run heading to the first media timeout. After Elon started the day missing each of its first nine shots, the Phoenix got on the board shortly out of the break with a Jada Graves layup. From there, Elon closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run to lead 9-6 after one, holding Alabama off the scoreboard for the final 5:22 of the frame.
A 4-0 Crimson Tide run to start the second quarter put Alabama back on top 10-9 less than 70 seconds into the segment, but the Phoenix answered with a 9-0 run to push its lead to eight at 18-10 with 5:51 to go before halftime. Though Alabama came back within three at 18-15 with a Hannah Cook three-pointer and a Meoshonti Knight fast-break layup, Elon closed the half on an 8-4 run to take a 26-19 advantage to the second half.
To open the third quarter, Malaya Johnson hit a jumper to push Elon’s lead to nine at 28-19. Alabama then answered with a 9-2 run to cut the Phoenix cushion to just two with 6:42 remaining in the third. While the Crimson Tide tried to stick with Elon, the Phoenix gave itself breathing room with a 13-6 run in the final 5:36 to take a nine-point, 45-36 lead to the final 10 minutes.
Early in the fourth, Elon pushed its lead to a game-high 12 at 48-36 with a pair of Burnett free throws and again at 50-38 following a Graves layup after she came away with a steal on the defensive end. Over the course of the final 7:51, Alabama outscored Elon 17-10 and came within three at 52-49 with 3:23 to go and 56-53 with 55 seconds to play, but Elon hit six free throws in the final 1:06 to seal the five-point win.
Burnett’s 23 points also paired with her 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the year and 21st of her career. The senior went 13-for-15 from the free throw line. Ra’Shika White also scored 13 points to go with seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Graves notched nine points off the bench on 4-of-7 shooting while Meme Garner also scored eight points to go with three rebounds.
Knight’s 14 points and eight rebounds led Alabama in both categories in the defeat. Cook finished with 13 points and a game-high five steals while Ashley Williams had 10 points and six rebounds.
-Elon and Alabama both received votes in this week’s national polls. Elon got two votes in the USA TODAY Coaches poll and Alabama picked up four votes in the AP Top 25 poll.
-Burnett’s 13 free throws are the most made by a player in a game since she tied the program record of 15 on Nov. 19, 2015, against Charlotte. Last season, Graves and Lauren Brown tied for the season high with one eight-make game apiece. Burnett’s 13 on Friday night tie her with Nikki Herron’s 13 against Radford on Feb. 11, 1998, and Holly Andrews’ 13 against William & Mary on Jan. 23, 2003, for the fourth-most in a game in program history.
-Only seven Phoenix scored in the game, marking the fewest of the season.
-With four points, Johnson is now at 872 points for her career and is 128 away from 1,000.
Elon will be back in action Saturday, Nov. 25, for the final game of the Puerto Rico Clasico when it takes on Iowa of the Big Ten. The game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Phoenix and Hawkeyes.