BOSTON, Mass. – Freshman Kayla Liles secured her first career double-double and helped lead a comeback charge for the Elon University women’s basketball team in the second half, but it was not enough as Northeastern prevailed with a 79-71 victory in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams on Friday, Jan. 4, inside the Cabot Center.
Down by 17 points entering the final period, Elon (5-7, 0-1 CAA) fought to cut Northeastern’s (11-1, 1-0 CAA) lead to single digits, but ultimately the Huskies were able to hold off the Phoenix’s rally. The victory was the first for Northeastern against the Phoenix on its home floor and the second win versus Elon in the all-time series.
Lexi Mercer had a team-high 17 points for Elon, including 10 in the third quarter. Liles earned her first career double-double behind career-highs with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Emily Maupin joined Mercer and Liles in double figures for the Phoenix with 11 points.
The Huskies’ Jess Genco led all scorers with 24 points while also adding six assists and seven rebounds. Katie May contributed with a double-double for Northeastern with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Ayanna Dublin added 12 points to round out the double-digit scorers for Northeastern.
“It was a hard fought game tonight and I’m really proud of the effort that we put forth in the fourth quarter, well basically in the second half to try to come back against Northeastern,” said Phoenix head coach Charlotte Smith. “They are a great team and played an outstanding game tonight, but really pleased with the performance from Kayla Liles tonight. She had zero rebounds in the first half and she stepped up and had a double-double for the game. So that’s is an exciting thing to see and hopefully we can build on this loss and regroup and get ready for Hofstra.”
Ariel Colón opened the game with a three-pointer which aided the Phoenix to a 7-2 lead. A 5-2 run brought the Huskies back within two, 9-7, but a Mercer layup extended the Phoenix’s advantage to four, 11-7. Northeastern countered with a 5-0 run to take the lead, 12-11, but Elon responded with its own 5-0 run capped with a three-pointed by Micaela Ryan to but Elon back up by four, 16-12. A layup by the Huskies brought their deficit back to two, but Ryan’s second three of the quarter put Elon ahead 19-14 with 2:20 left in the quarter. Northeastern closed out the quarter strong with and pulled within one to close out the first, 19-18.
The Huskies opened the second on a 5-0 run and took a 29-23 lead near the six-minute mark of the quarter. A Phoenix layup by Saadia Munford plus a Mercer free throw brought Elon within three, 29-26, near the midway point of the period. Trailing 30-26 with just under 4:30 left to play, Maupin hit a three-pointer to bring Elon back within one, 30-29, but Northeastern went on a 7-2 run to extend its lead to six, 37-31. A free throw by Munford along with a layup by Tyja Traore trimmed the deficit to three, 37-34, but the Huskies closed out the quarter on a tear, outscoring Elon 9-0 to head into the locker room at the break up 46-34.
Northeastern continued to build its lead into the third quarter, going up by as many as 18 points. Mercer kept the Phoenix within reach with her big quarter including eight straight points at one stretch. A layup by Liles at the 2:17 cut Northeastern’s lead to 12, 62-50, but another strong finish to the quarter by the Huskies, this time a 7-1 run, pushed Elon’s deficit to 17, 68-51, going into the final period.
As the final quarter began, it looked like Northeastern was ready to take complete control of the contest, as its lead ballooned to 20, 72-52 on a layup with less than eight minutes left in the game. That would be the final field goal of the game for the Huskies as the Phoenix started to battle back thanks to a 12-0 run. Liles was one of the main catalysts in the run, including scoring five straight points to trim Northeastern’s lead back under single digits, 72-64, with 2:30 left to play.
On the next possession for Northeastern, Elon forced a turnover as Liles stole the ball away. Looking to cut its deficit down further, Elon had ample opportunities with three shots attempted and two offensive rebounds, but could not get the shot to fall. As the game ticked to a minute left to play, Elon was forced to foul to extend the game, but Northeastern made the most of its chances at the charity stripe and eventually came away with the 79-71 victory.
Elon continues its northeast road swing with a visit to Hempstead, N.Y., for a matchup at Hofstra on Sunday, Jan. 6. That game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. tip-off time.