ELON, N.C. – Shay Burnett’s fourth double-double of the season led Elon University women’s basketball to a 75-67 victory over UNCW on opening night of CAA play inside Alumni Gym on Friday, Dec. 29.
“It was a game of runs,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “It was a great game and a great conference opener. Coach (Karen) Barefoot has done a great job with UNCW. It was a great game for our fans to watch and it was everything the CAA has stood for the last couple years, which is parity from top to bottom.”
The win pushes Elon’s record to 9-3 this year while the Seahawks dropped to 7-5. The contest marked the first CAA game of the campaign for both programs. Elon has now won six consecutive home games against conference opponents and nine consecutive games against CAA foes overall dating back to February 2017.
A hot start saw Elon jump out to a 9-2 run in the early going behind four points from Burnett. The Phoenix then pushed its lead to as many as nine at 14-5 following a three-pointer off the hands of Lexi Mercer. Her three-pointer was the only field goal in the final five-plus minutes of the quarter, but Elon hit four free throws in that span to take an 18-13 lead to the second.
To start the second quarter, UNCW scored five quick points in the opening minute to tie the game and bring a Phoenix timeout. Out of the break, Saadia Munford answered with a three-pointer, but the Seahawks’ Timber Tate knocked down a pair of three-pointers in a span of 21 seconds to put UNCW up 24-21 with 7:54 to play in the half. Trailing 26-24 after a Moriah Crisp jumper, Malaya Johnson started a 6-0 Elon run that put the Phoenix up 30-26 with 5:51 left. From there, the two teams traded points until Elon closed the half on an 8-2 run to lead 42-36 at the break.
Midway through the third quarter, Elon methodically pushed its lead to 10 after a Burnett three-pointer and a Ra’Shika White layup. But Jenny DeGraaf answered with back-to-back three-pointers and Lacey Suggs hit a layup with 3:36 to go to bring the Seahawks within two. Elon responded nicely, though, by finishing the third quarter on a 5-1 run with White hitting a layup at the buzzer to give Elon a 65-57 lead.
Down the stretch, UNCW cut Elon’s lead to six on four occasions in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get closer than that with Elon pushing its lead back to 10 with last-minute free throws on the way to the eight-point victory.
Led by four players in double figures, Burnett’s 24 points and 11 rebounds paced Elon, but she was followed by White’s 13 points and nine rebounds while both Munford and Meme Garner scored 10 points apiece. Burnett also had six assists and Munford finished with five. Garner hauled in nine rebounds to set a new career high.
The Seahawks also had four players in double figures with Madison Raque leading the way with 14 points and five rebounds. DeGraaf finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Crisp had 12 points and Suggs 11.
-Finishing with seven points, Johnson now has 940 career points in maroon and gold and is 60 away from becoming the 24th player in Elon’s 1,000-point club.
-With the start, Burnett made her 100th start in maroon and gold.
-Elon outrebounded UNCW 53-35. The positive margin breaks a two-game streak in which the Phoenix was tied or outrebounded its opponent. Elon outrebounded each of its first nine opponents before the two-game run.
-Elon has now won six games in a row against UNCW and is 10-5 in the all-time series.
-The game marked the first for UNCW head coach Karen Barefoot against the Phoenix. Formerly the Elon bench boss, she coached the Phoenix from 2008-11 before departing for Old Dominion. This is her first year at the helm of the Seahawks after spending six years at ODU.
After an early open date in its CAA schedule Sunday, Dec. 31, Elon will be back in action Friday, Jan. 5, at Delaware. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. inside the Bob Carpenter Center. Elon is 6-1 all-time against Delaware and 3-0 in road games against the Blue Hens.