The Elon University women’s basketball team dominated both ends of the court against the College of William & Mary in a 70-47 win Sunday afternoon in Alumni Gym.
It was Senior Day in Alumni Gym, and it was a core of Elon’s seniors that propelled the Phoenix to victory. Senior forward Jennifer Rhodes tied for the team-high in scoring with 11 points. In the rebounding column, senior guard Lenaira Ruffin pulled down 12 off the glass. Head coach Charlotte Smith reflected on the five players in their final season with the program.
“We talked about when they first arrived on campus, in that first meeting that we had, and telling the team— the seniors, this class — that they had the potential to turn this program around and make this a championship program, so I’m so proud," Smith said.
Elon's seniors (Brown, Rhodes, Baucom, Ruffin, and McCallie) honored in a pregame ceremony. pic.twitter.com/jINH4EOcaj— Alex Hager (@awhager) February 19, 2017
The win against the Tribe marked Elon’s 21st victory of the season, a mark the Phoenix reached for the first time in its 18-season history as a Division I program. Sunday’s win also moved the team to 13-2 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play, clinching one of the top three seeds in the upcoming CAA tournament.
Elon was able to spread its scoring around on the afternoon as every active member of the roster notched points to their name. The starting lineup was comprised entirely of seniors, but even freshmen Ra’Shika White, Lexi Mercer, and Madison Wilder saw time on the court and made field goals, offering a glimpse at the program’s future. Junior forward Malaya Johnson also made a splash, putting up double-double numbers for the second time this season with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Shay Burnett had 11 points and seven rebounds.
The Phoenix defense held the Tribe to two quarters of single-digit scoring, resulting in a 23-13 Elon lead at the half. The Phoenix finished with 55 total rebounds, tying their second highest total this season. Not only did Elon control the boards, but the Phoenix also forced 13 turnovers and consistently pounced on loose balls.
The win against William and Mary is the second in a row for the Phoenix and, against teams that aren't James Madison University, Elon has won 17 straight. Their efforts have garnered national recognition, landing them at No. 8 in the College Insider Women’s Mid-Major Top 25 ranking. The rankings have fans and players thinking about prospects for postseason play.
“I’m just very excited,” Rhodes said. “We have a great team and great possibilities to have a banner hanging in our own gym.”
The Phoenix will next depart on a two-game road trip, traveling to the University of Delaware Friday and Towson University Sunday before returning home for the final game of the regular season against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington March 1.