Shay Burnett had a career-high 21 points as the Elon University women’s basketball team defeated Northeastern University 80-77 on Sunday, Jan. 25.
Burnett, a freshman guard, led the team in scoring, including a string of eight consecutive points in the second half.
“I knew we needed to get the ball down the court and score,” said Burnett. “We attacked the basket to get them to foul.”
After battling back and forth for most of the first half, Elon established an eight-point lead on Northeastern, going into the locker room up 38-30. During the second half, the Phoenix got into a rhythm, which saw itself leading by as many as 18 with 13:16 to play.
However, Northeastern rallied to find a way back into the game. Down 15, the Huskies mounted a 15-2 run late in the second half to pull them within a point with 3:10 left in the game.
Northeastern guard Kazzidy Stewart hit a three-pointer with 1:04 to play to send the game into overtime.
In extra time, the Phoenix jumped out to the lead as Burnett knocked down a jumper. The game remained in question until senior guard Zora Stephenson made three free throws to seal the win for Elon with less than 20 seconds to play.
“I’m glad that we were able to stay focused in overtime and pull out the win,” said head coach Charlotte Smith.
The Phoenix struggled from beyond the arc in the first half, making just 25 percent of their shots. They improved to 50 percent in the second half, thanks in part to a slew of threes from Burnett.
Points in the paint were a big part of the Elon offense, amounting to 30 of the team’s total.
“I think we had an advantage inside,” said freshman center Malaya Johnson, who finished with 10 points. “We do better when we’re patient.”
Stephenson finished with 13 points, and sophomore guard Lauren Brown had 10. The Phoenix offense was able to regain momentum in overtime, scoring 12.
Defensively, Elon struggled to find an answer for Northeastern forward Samantha DeFreese. She scored 26 points, 18 of which came after halftime.
“Samantha is a very good player,” said Smith. “In crunch time they were going to her, and we just did not get stops.”
Despite DeFreese’s presence down low, the Phoenix were able to outrebound the Huskies, 41-34. Burnett led the team with 7, while sophomore guard Essence Baucom snagged six. Johnson and sophomore forward Jenifer Rhodes also contributed on the glass, finishing with 4 a piece. Rhodes also had three blocks, while senior forward Sam Coffer added three steals to help Elon on defense.
Despite the victory, The Phoenix see areas that need improvement.
“We can’t get comfortable once we see we have a lead,” said Baucom. “The game’s not over until the last buzzer sounds.”
With the victory, Elon improves to 12-7, with a 5-3 conference record. Northeastern falls to 4-14 with a 1-7 conference record. Elon’s next game comes on Jan. 30, when the Phoenix travel to Harrisburg, Va. to take on James Madison at 7 p.m.