Five seconds remained in the Elon University women’s basketball game against Hofstra University on Sunday, Feb. 15. Just before the buzzer went off, Pride forward Anjie White scored a go-ahead layup to seal the win.
The loss marked the second straight for the Phoenix in which it lost during the final minute. Elon has lost its past two games by a combined six points.
The losses drop Elon two spots to fifth place in the CAA with a mark of 7-6.
So without a doubt, Elon has some work to do with just five games left in the regular season leading up to the CAA Tournament. Beating Hofstra and the University of North Carolina Wilmington at home this past week would’ve been a big boost, but it didn’t come to fruition.
Two issues, in particular, are highlighting Elon’s struggles as the team hasn’t been hot from 3-point range and the rebounding performance has been bleak at the least. In fact, Elon turned in conflicting offensive performances in both games. The Phoenix scored 82 points against UNCW, the second-most it’s scored all year, but managed just 53 against Hofstra.
But the defensive performance irked Elon coach Charlotte Smith, too.
“Defense is the biggest thing,” Smith said. “Our goal is to hold teams to 60 points or less.”
Against UNCW Feb. 12, the Phoenix shot just 25 percent from the 3-point line. In the Hofstra loss, Elon made only 29 percent of its 3-pointers.
Defensively, Elon has struggled to rebound and make stops in crucial situations.
The Phoenix was outrebounded 39-27 against UNCW and 45-34 against Hofstra.
Sophomore forward Jenifer Rhodes, who averages 8.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, wore a walking boot on her left foot, missed the game against the Seahawks.
Smith said Rhodes was day-to-day, and she returned against Hofstra. Elon will need her healthy to be competitive in the CAA Tournament.
“I feel like with Jen out, we have top look to go to other people more,” said freshman forward Malaya Johnson, who felt the weight of filling in for Rhodes in the post. “Obviously, she’s a big factor. She does a lot for us.”
In the last month of the season, Elon takes on three of the four teams ahead of it in the standings, including the University of Delaware, Hofstra and Drexel University. The Phoenix travels for three of its last five games of the season, starting against Northeastern University Feb. 19.
James Madison University has run away at the top of the standings with a 13-0 mark. Drexel follows with a 9-4 record, and Hofstra and Delaware are behind at 9-5 and 8-6, respectively.
Needless to say, these last few matchups will be vital in determining seeding for the CAA Tournament in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
“Defense and rebounding—those are the two things we have to focus on,” Smith said. “We have to find a way to get stops.”
Senior reporter Kyle Lubinsky contributed reporting.