The Elon University women’s basketball team wrapped up a successful opening weekend with a 69-56 victory over The Naval Academy.
Head coach Charlotte Smith said the two victories were the result of team-wide improvement. “You want to be moving forward and not taking steps backwards.
“Today, I walk away from this game feeling like we improved,” she said.
Senior forward Sam Coffer recorded a game-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Sophomore guard Lauren Brown added 13 of her own off the bench while also grabbing a team-high seven boards.
Navy went to its perimeter shooting early and often in the first half scoring their first 12 points behind four 3-pointers. Smith said the plan was to give Navy different looks, though she admitted miscommunication often led to giving up open looks.
Elon responded by going to its inside game scoring 22 points in the paint and 12 of its first 15 during the first half.
Brown’s 3-pointer and free throw gave Elon a little breathing room at the 12:34 mark to put the Phoenix up 17-12. Elon extended its lead to seven with a drive from sophomore guard Essence Baucom at the 8:27 mark, but the Midshipmen went on an 11-0 run capped off by a jumper from freshman forward Haley Unger to retake the lead prompting a timeout from Smith.
Brown scored the final five points for the Phoenix in the first half. The Alpharetta, Ga., native hit a jumper to even the contest at 31 with 0:44 remaining and then hit a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired to give Elon the lead going into the locker room.
The Phoenix shot just under 50 percent from the field in the first half, going 14-of-29 from the floor, while holding Navy to 25 percent (5-of-25 from beyond the arc.
Elon took control of the game in the second half. Coffer scored nine of her 15 in the opening 5:41 of the second half to put the Phoenix ahead 48-41.
“That gave us a lot of energy,” Brown said. “It allowed us to increase the intensity of everyone on the court.”
Brown’s old-fashion 3-point play then gave Elon its first double-digit lead at 57-46 with under 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Phoenix would extend its lead to 14 on two occasions, but came out with a 12-point victory.
The Phoenix struggled to control the glass, despite a clear height advantage.
“It’s just about heart and getting in there,” Smith said. “At times, we’re just not mentally tough enough to make that effort when we’re tired.”
Elon outrebounded Navy 38-37, but allowed 15 offensive rebounds to the Midshipmen.
Two backcourt players, Brown and freshman guard Shay Burnett, led the Phoenix in rebounding with seven apiece, but Smith said the rebounding will come when the bigs get more consistent minutes.
Elon will return to action on Friday, Nov. 21 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.