ELON, N.C. – The two-time defending CAA women’s basketball tournament champion Elon University opening its 2018-19 campaign Tuesday night, Nov. 6, with a 100-69 loss to North Carolina inside Schar Center.
“Overall, I am very proud of my team and pleased with some things I saw tonight,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We got off to a really good start executing and getting things we wanted to get out of our offensive sets. We allowed too many transition points in the second half and that kind of hurt us so we had to make some adjustments, but overall we played hard and fought for 40 minutes even when we were down so I’m very proud of my team.”
Though UNC’s Stephanie Watts scored the first basket in Schar Center history, Emily Maupin hit the first Elon points in the building with a layup on the ensuing possession to start a 5-0 run. Elon pushed its lead to as many as six at 11-5 after an Anna Popovic layup, but the Tar Heels chipped away at the lead and took a one-point lead to the second quarter at 18-17.
In the second, North Carolina opened on a 5-0 run to extend its lead to six before back-to-back Kayla Liles buckets cut down the lead to two. But after the lead was cut to 23-21, UNC went on an 9-0 run to go up 32-21 and continued the run to 17-4 to go up 16 with 1:30 to go before halftime. Over the final 90 seconds, Elon cut into the lead with a Maupin layup and three point from Ariel Colon to cut the lead down to 11 at the break.
To open the third, Elon and UNC split buckets to start the quarter, but the Tar Heels pushed the lead to 20 late in the quarter on the way to the win.
Liles led Elon with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with three steals in her first collegiate game. Lexi Mercer also had 12 points and Jada Graves 10. Popovic and Maupin tied for the team lead with seven rebounds apiece and Graves finished with a team-best four assists.
UNC put six players in double figures, led by Shayla Bennett’s 19 points, seven assists and five steals and Watts’ 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
-Elon’s 18-game home winning streak going back to Jan. 20, 2017, was snapped with the loss.
-The game was played in front of a crowd of 1,622 fans, marking the most to watch a home women’s basketball game in Elon history.
After a week off, Elon will return to action with a 5:30 p.m. game on the road down I-85 in Durham, N.C., against North Carolina Central. The contest starts a three-game road trip for the Phoenix, which has the team going to NC Central, Duke and Appalachian State.