PHILADELPHIA – Third-seeded Elon University women’s basketball earned its second-straight Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title Saturday, March 10, with a 57-45 victory over top-seeded Drexel inside the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Now winners of a Division I program record 13 in a row, Elon will head to the NCAA Tournament with a 25-7 record. Drexel falls to 26-7 on the year and will await its postseason destination.
Elon is the second team outside of the top two seeds in CAA Tournament history to win the title and is the first since third-seeded Old Dominion beat top-seeded East Carolina back in 1992. The title is Elon’s first back-to-back conference tournament championships in program history. It won consecutive Conference Carolinas regular-season championships in 1981 and 1982.
Elon opened the afternoon hitting each of its first five shots and six of its first seven at the first media timeout on the way to knocking down 80 percent on 8-of-10 in the opening 10 minutes. Shay Burnett and Malaya Johnson combined to score each of Elon’s first 12 points in helping the Phoenix build a 12-6 lead. Following a Bailey Greenberg free throw with 1:19 to go in the quarter that cut the Elon lead to five, Ra’Shika White and Meme Garner combined for a 4-0 run to close the quarter to help Elon lead 18-9 after one.
After a fast-paced first quarter, both teams slowed in the second with Elon only scoring nine points to Drexel’s eight to take a 27-17 lead to halftime. Out of the break, the Phoenix got hot again by hitting 58.3 percent of its shots in the frame while outscoring the Dragons 22-14. Saadia Munford had a big quarter with seven of the team’s first nine points out of halftime, which included two buckets through fouls.
Leading 49-31 after three quarters, the Dragons put together a 14-2 run to open the fourth in the first six minutes. With Elon’s lead at six, the Phoenix defense shut the Dragons down in the final 4:01 in not allowing Drexel to score another point after making it 51-45. Down the stretch, Garner knocked down a big three-pointer with 2:11 to play and Johnson put the icing on the cake with a layup with 29 seconds to go.
Johnson led the way with 14 points on 7-of-10 from the floor to go with five rebounds. Burnett and Munford also added 13 points apiece while Muford pulled down eight rebounds. Both Burnett and Lexi Mercer dished out a team-best three assists and Jada Graves had six points and seven rebounds.
Hannah Nihill led Drexel with 14 points. She went 3-of-9 from the floor, but hit 6-of-7 free throws. Greenberg also had 13 points with four rebounds. Kelsi Lidge and Aubree Brown both finished with eight on the day.
-The Phoenix shot 51.2 percent from the floor on 21-of-41 shooting. Drexel finished hitting 15-of-59 for 25.4 percent. Last year, Elon shot 53.1 percent in the title game against James Madison and held the Dukes to just 22.8 percent.
-Shooting 51.2 percent, Elon has now shot above 50 percent in six of its last seven and seven of its last nine going back to Feb. 11. It has shot at least 45 percent in each of its last nine games.
-Burnett and Johnson combined to score Elon’s first 12 points of the day. Elon also knocked down its first five shots and shot 80 percent in the first quarter.
-The Phoenix bench came up big with 12 points from Graves, White and Jaylin Powell. Drexel did not have any bench points.
Most Outstanding Performer: Shay Burnett, Elon
Malaya Johnson, Elon
Bailey Greenberg, Drexel
Kelsi Lidge, Drexel
Kelly Koshuta, James Madison
Samone DeFreese, Delaware
With the CAA’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, the Phoenix will learn its seed, opponent and location on Monday night, March 12, with the NCAA Selection Show on ESPN at 7 p.m.