The Elon University women’s basketball team’s huge second half carried the Phoenix to a 70-27 blowout victory over Winston-Salem State University in an exhibition contest Nov. 8. 

"We talked about our identity and who we and and who people would believe we are after they see this game film and wanted to make a statement [that] we are a defensive team," said head coach Charlotte Smith. 

Junior forward Jenifer Rhodes led the way for the Phoenix with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Senior guard Josepha Mbouma added with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and six steals.  

Smith said she challenged Mbouma before the game after telling her she was starting and positioned at the top of Elon's press defense. 

"[Sophomore guard] Shay [Burnett] and whoever else was on the wing with me did a great job trapping, and we moved a lot, getting hands on balls and trying to be pests defensively," Mbouma said. 

The Phoenix started the second half with a 15-point lead, but it ballooned to 31 by the end of the third quarter to end the Ram's hope at a comeback. 

Elon’s biggest run of the period was a 13-0 run to extend its lead to 43-15. Junior guard Lenaira Ruffin capped off the run with a three-pointer with 5:59 remaining.

The Phoenix extended its lead in fourth quarter. After ending the third on a 6-0 run, Mbouma opened the fourth with a three followed by a layup by sophomore center Malaya Johnson. Rhodes scored the final basket of the game with 0:34 remaining to give Elon it’s largest lead of the game.

The Phoenix was aided by stout defense, holding Winston-Salem to under double digits in three of the game’s four quarters. Elon also forced 32 turnovers, turning them into 26 points. 

The Phoenix will open its regular season at 2 p.m Nov. 14 when its hosts Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University. 

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