The Elon University women’s basketball team survived a late push from Western Carolina University Feb. 15, edging out a 65-61 win on the road.
The two teams exchanged blows in the first half, with neither team taking a commanding lead. Elon junior forward Shannon Cochraham’s layup, followed by a free throw from sophomore guard Jessica Farmer gave the Phoenix an early 9-6 lead. Western Carolina fought right back to take a lead of its own. Sophomore guard Lindsay Simpson hit a three and a layup, followed by a layup from junior guard Justin Taylor to cap a 7-0 run and take a 13-9 lead.
The teams were tied three more times during the opening period, but Elon was able to gain the upper hand late in the first half. Trailing 19-18 with 4:37 remaining, junior forward Sam Coffer scored an old-fashion three-point play to put the Phoenix up by two.
Elon had its largest lead of the half after a jumper from sophomore forward Autumn Carter put the Phoenix up 31-25. Senior guard Kelsey Harris scored as time expired in the first half to give the Phoenix a 33-27 lead going into halftime.
Elon extended its lead to double figures early in the second half. Freshman forward Jenifer Rhodes hit jumper to give the Phoenix a 37-27 lead with 18:13 remaining.
Western Carolina erased the double-digit deficit via a 16-2 run to take a 43-39 lead with 13:41 remaining in the game. The Phoenix responded to the Catamounts run with a 17-0 run of its own capped by a Farmer jumper with 6:35 remaining to put Elon in front 56-43.
The Phoenix was once again unable to hold the large lead, and a Taylor 3-pointer pulled the Catamounts to within two with 13 seconds remaining in the game. But two clutch free throws from Coffer allowed Elon to escape with a four-point victory.
Stephenson and Rhodes led the way for the Phoenix with 11 points apiece, while Harris and Coffer both chipped in with 10 points. Elon shot a warm 45 percent from the field on 23 of 51 shooting including five makes from behind the arc.
The Phoenix once again proved to wreak havoc on the defensive side of the ball, holding Western Carolina to just 32 percent from the field on 24 of 74 shooting and an even colder 7 of 27 shooting from 3-point range.
Elon will continue its mountain road trip when it takes on rival Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., Feb. 17. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m.