ELON, N.C. – Elon University women’s basketball played its final non-conference game in Alumni Gym Tuesday night, Dec. 19, and earned a convincing 78-50 victory over NC Central.
Now 8-3 on the season, Elon finishes regular-season non-conference action with its best winning percentage since becoming a Division I program in 1999-2000, winning .727 percent of its games. Playing its sixth road game in a row, NC Central now stands at 2-9 on the year and finished its road trip 0-6.
Though NC Central opened the night with five points in a row, Elon answered with a big 20-2 run that was started by a three-pointer and a three-point play by Jada Graves. During the run, Saadia Munford scored on back-to-back fast-break layups off Phoenix steals. Ra’Shika White then closed the first quarter with a three-point play after hitting a layup and getting fouled. She finished the first quarter with nine points. In all, Elon ended the first quarter on a 26-7 run to take a 26-12 lead to the second.
Jaylin Powell started Elon’s second quarter with a three-pointer from the right wing and Meme Garner followed with a three-point play of her own. White matched her first-quarter offensive production with 10 more points to score a game-high 19 in the first half. Munford also had seven assists in the opening 20 minutes, which broke her previous career high of six against Hampton on Nov. 17 as Elon took a 19-point lead at 45-26 to the locker room.
Elon cooled off in the early part of the second half, but the Phoenix kept NC Central to a 20-point margin throughout the quarter and extended its lead to as many as 24 after opening the frame with three points from Graves and two by Malaya Johnson. Of Elon’s 21 third-quarter points, Johnson scored 10 of them.
In the fourth quarter, Powell came on strong with four big points while playing strong defense throughout the quarter as Elon pushed its lead to the winning margin of 28.
White led all players with 19 points on the night, finishing 7-of-10 from the floor and 5-for-7 from the free throw line. She also pulled down seven rebounds. Johnson had 14 points on 6-for-9 from the field while Powell and Graves both added 12 points. Graves also added a career-high seven steals while Munford finished with a career-best 10 assists. Lexi Mercer finished with a career-best five assists in the win.
-With 14 points, Johnson now has 933 career points and is 68 away from becoming the 24th member of the 1,000-point club.
-Munford’s 10 assists marks the sixth 10-assist game of the season for a CAA player. In all, Elon accounts for three of the six occasions with Shay Burnett recording a CAA-best two.
-Elon finished the night with 19 steals, marking the most in a game since 21 against Virginia Intermont on Nov. 18, 2011. The 19 steals ties for the 10th-most in a game in Elon’s Division I history, matching the 19 against Montreat on Nov. 19, 2006, in Alumni Gym.
-Tying NC Central with 38 rebounds on the night, it’s the second-straight game Elon has not outrebounded its opponent after winning the battle on the boards against each of its previous nine opponents.
-In missing Tuesday’s game, Burnett’s consecutive games played streak came to an end at 54. It’s just the second game in her career she’s missed with the first coming during her sophomore 2015-16 campaign against William & Mary. She was held out for precautionary reasons heading into CAA play.
With non-conference play in the books, Elon will open its fourth season of CAA basketball with a Friday night, Dec. 29, matchup against UNCW at 7 p.m. in Alumni Gym. The Seahawks are led by former Elon head coach Karen Barefoot, who led the Phoenix from 2008-11 before leaving the program for Old Dominion. Next Friday’s game marks the first time the Phoenix will battle a Barefoot-led team since her departure.