After missing 37 shots in a row, junior guard Maddie McCallie could have allowed her struggles to control her thought process when she had a shot.
But her teammates on the Elon University women’s basketball team wouldn’t let that happen.
“She’s a shooter,” said junior guard Essence Baucom. “We always tell her we have confidence in her and to keep shooting. That’s what she did.”
McCallie made her fifth shot of the Jan. 26 game against University of North Carolina at Wilmington from behind the 3-point line, ending her streak of 37 straight misses from the field and 26 misses from deep.
McCallie shook her head and smiled after seeing the first shot go in, acknowledging that she knew about the streak through her body language, even as she tried to avoid fixating on it.
“I just wanted to focus on making the next shot, trying not to think about the past,” McCallie said. “I had great encouragement from the team and the coaches. I knew they had faith in me to just knock it down.”
After getting off to a hot start in the 2015-2016 season — 15-of-37 (40.5 percent) from the field and 12-of-26 (46.1 percent) from behind the arc in the first 10 games — McCallie’s cold spell began at University of West Virginia Dec. 28.
Head coach Charlotte Smith recognized the difficulty McCallie had in getting over the slump after making the shot in the UNCW game.
“She needed that — she needed to hit a shot,” Smith said. “When you go for that long of a stretch, it can be a mental nightmare. It’s hard to get out of that slump, mentally, until you hit that first shot.”
McCallie has a strong basketball background — her mother Joanne is the head coach of the Duke University women’s basketball team. After spending two years at Miami University of Ohio, McCallie transferred to Elon, returning closer to home.
After sitting out a year because of transfer rules, her role on the team was unknown. Elon returned many key contributors, but McCallie eventually earned a starting spot in the sixth game of the season and has started every game since.
“Starting off the game we have the opportunity to set the tone as far as energy. I think that’s what we are really trying to focus on — just bringing that energy from the start and have it carry through the game,” said McCallie.
McCallie broke the slump against UNCW, making shots in the next three games before missing all seven shots against the University of Delaware Feb. 7.
Through the seven-and-a-half-game-long shooting slump and now after, McCallie has started every game because of her strong defensive play and basketball smarts.
“She’s a great defender. She’s very smart, and always in good defensive positioning,” Smith said. “We feel like we have to be a really good defensive team ... and we’re really confident in her being in the game and playing with intelligence defensively.”
The high-level of play on the other end of the floor was not expected but is a welcome surprise for Smith and the team.
“[The defense] was just something we saw as she began to practice with the team,” Smith said. “My original thought in terms of bringing her here is she’s a shooter — that’s what she was known for throughout her high school career.”
McCallie’s shooting may be what she was known for, and Elon will continue to encourage her to shoot. Smith sees the impact of her prestige through the way opponents defend McCallie.
“It’s evident that people still respect her as a shooter,” Smith said. “Despite going 0-for-26, people still run out at her as a shooter.”