Despite a late rally, the Elon University women’s basketball team fell to the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks Thursday, 86-82.
The Phoenix thrived in the paint, scoring 52 points. Freshman center Malaya Johnson scored 19 points, sophomore guard Essence Baucom had 17 and senior forward Sam Coffer had 16 before fouling out late in the contest.
The game was hotly contested throughout the first-half, with Elon gaining a one- point advantage at the break, 36-35. The teams battled for position in the second half until the 13:32 mark, when UNCW’s Kelva Atkins drained a three to give her team the lead. The Seahawks would go on to lead by as many as 13 in the half.
Elon, however, was not deterred. Baucom scored 13 points in the last 2:39 of the game to put the Phoenix back within three, including a crucial and-one with 35 seconds left. Ultimately, the efforts would fall short as UNCW’s Ryan Flowers made a free throw with six seconds remaining to give the Seahawks the win.
“I wish we wouldn’t put ourselves in that type of predicament,” said head coach Charlotte Brown. “The way we alleviate that is through two simple things- defense and rebounding.”
The Phoenix struggled on defense against the Seahawks, as it was outrebounded 40-27. Flowers made her presence known in the paint by grabbing 12 rebounds. The efforts of Atkins and Naqaiyyah Teague proved to be a deadly combination for UNCW- the two combined for a total of 44 points. The Seahawks’ transition offense was also effective, netting 10 points during fastbreaks.
Sophomore forward Jenifer Rhodes missed the game with a leg injury.
“She’s very active defensively and definitely could’ve helped us on the boards as well,” said Smith.
Rhodes is being monitored day to day, making her status in the lineup unknown going forward.
Elon’s bench helped to keep the game within reach, combining for 30 points. Freshman guard Shay Burnett also added a key component to the Phoenix- despite scoring no points, she led the team with eight assists.
“We just waited too late to pick up out intensity,” said sophomore guard Lauren Brown, who scored 13 points. “It’s really hard to get over that hump and come back.”
The Phoenix also had success shooting the ball from the floor, hitting 55 percent of its shots. It struggled to find rhythm from beyond the arc, however, making only 25 percent of shots from downtown, and making only 16 percent after halftime.
The Phoenix got into foul trouble near the end of the game. Besides Coffer fouling out, Johnson had four fouls. Brown, Burnett and Baucom each had three. The game was a physical competition- Elon had 22 fouls to UNCW’s 18.
With the loss, Elon falls to 7-5 in CAA play, and 14-9 overall. The Phoenix return to Alumni Gym on Feb. 15 to take on Hofstra University at 1 p.m.