The Elon University women’s basketball team came into Alumni Gym Friday night with an opportunity to affirm itself in fourth place in the CAA.
With a star-effort performance from sophomore guard Shay Burnett, the Phoenix beat the University of Delaware 62-45 to confirm its new standing in the CAA with an opportunity looming ahead Sunday against top-ranked James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.
“For the most part, I felt we were pretty consistent throughout the game,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “We would like to eliminate some of the turnovers, but overall I felt that we had a complete game and were able to play a lot of people and rest some people to get ready for James Madison on Sunday.”
The win came on the last home game for the Phoenix this season heading into the CAA Tournament Mar. 9.
“We wanted to come out tonight and make a statement,” Smith said. “But also give our fans something to be hungry for next season.”
Despite slow first half of play marred by eight turnovers, Elon held a slim four-point advantage at the break, thanks to strong rebounding efforts. The rebounding performance was resounding for the Phoenix, as every player but one registered at least one rebound.
“We always talk about controlling the controllables,” Smith said. “We want to be a great defensive and offensive rebounding team.”
Burnett erupted for eight points in the third quarter that included a nearly half-court buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the quarter. Burnett finished the game with three 3-pointers while also shooting a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line.
“I knew time was running down and we needed to get a shot up before the buzzer,” Burnett said.
Senior guard Jospepha Mbouma spoke highly of Burnett’s performance and of her experience with her as a teammate the past two years.
“I think Shay is a great basketball player,” she said. “She’s a playmaker. She’s one of those people who gets you excited to play with her.”
Elon finished the game with 43 rebounds, in part because Delaware shot 0-9 from 3-point range and 33 percent from the field.
Mbouma relished her final game at Alumni Gym, but pushed aside emotions with the season still on the line for the upcoming tournament.
“I try to see it as another game day,” she said. “This was a big game for us to [take over] the fourth spot in the CAA, so I try not to think about the emotions of it being my last game in Alumni. But I’m really proud of our team.”
Smith described the win as a good step and mentioned how the momentum the team got today will emulate into more points for its next game against James Madison.
“We shot the ball well,” she said. “A lot of our confidence comes from putting the ball in the hole and we just have to continue that.”