The Elon Phoenix (2-4) played the Marist Red Foxes (6-1). The first time the Phoenix have ever faced the Red Foxes, they looked to create a true win streak after their win against Chowan, but fell short in the final quarter, losing 57-61.
Head coach Charlotte Smith said they “knew that it was going to be a good game and definitely a challenge” for her learning team.
“I felt like the stretches where we didn’t score, shots just did not fall," Smith said. "There were times where I thought we lost rhythm and momentum in substitutions and we have to find a way to keep that rhythm going.”
The first quarter started strong and fast on both ends, with the Phoenix scoring in six of their first seven possessions, putting them in a very good starting position against the Red Foxes. The Phoenix led for just about five minutes of the first quarter until a six-point scoring streak by the Red Foxes put them ahead at 13-15.
The Phoenix didn’t get disheartened by its quick lead, as sophomore guard Ariel Colón put up a three to bring the Phoenix back up. The first quarter ended in favor of the Phoenix, 21-17, while the second quarter opened in the favor of the Red Foxes. After almost two minutes of scoreless play from both teams, the Red Foxes scored two in a row to tie it back at 21-21. Again, both teams found themselves scoreless for another two minutes while the quick back and forth play continued, exhausting both teams and causing frequent subs on both ends.
Marist managed to decrease the Phoenix lead, ending the half closer than it began in Phoenix favor, 32-31. Colón led the Phoenix in scoring with eight points to end the half, with junior guard Lexi Mercer right behind her with seven points. The Phoenix had lots to look forward to going into the second half, and would create an exciting atmosphere in Schar Center.
The Phoenix continued their first half momentum into the third quarter, allowing the Red Foxes to score only once in almost three minutes and expanding its lead to 42-33. There were, again, minutes at a time when neither team could add any points to the board, and the lead decreased back down to four. The third quarter ended with a Phoenix lead at 49-45.
The fourth quarter went downhill fast for the Phoenix, losing its lead for a third time to a nine-point streak from the Red Foxes to push ahead 49-55.
“It starts with defense, our defense will lead to our offense, and that’s what we had to depend on but didn’t," said freshman guard Brie Perpignan when asked what happened for the Phoenix to lose its lead.
“We didn’t take some of the right shots which really hurt us at critical points in the game,” Smith added. For five minutes, the Phoenix did not score, and made matters worse when four of their players put themselves into foul trouble, giving the Red Foxes a bonus for the rest of the game.
Perpignan, who would end the game as the Phoenix' highest scorer, put the Phoenix back in the game with a three-pointer, putting the team just three points apart of the Red Foxes. Perpignan then tied the game for the Phoenix 57-57 with less than two minutes left in the fourth.
When the Red Foxes put up one more shot to push the score to 57-59, the Phoenix took a timeout with 13 seconds left to try to create a last minute game plan to, at the very least, get the tying shot up. But the ball, given to Colón, did not find the basket, and the Phoenix gave up two more points to end the game 57-61.
Coach Smith that she had hoped Colón “could get all the way to the hole because we were trying to create a mismatch with the big when we set the screen. ...I would have to go back and look at the tape, I felt maybe there were two defenders on her and maybe she couldn’t look for the kick."
“Of course this is a tough one to swallow seeing as we led for most of the game, but I will say that I am proud of our efforts and our strides towards improvement," Smith said. “We always talk about offensively playing together and making the extra pass and creating shots for each other and I thought for the majority of the game we did that."
While she is proud of her team, she recognizes that there is still much work to do. Smith says,
"We have to make the shots. Three to nine is not a good percentage, zero to five is not a good percentage, so we just have to make shots," Smith said. "Our guards are doing a good job of rebounding. We just have to get everyone else contributing. Those second chance opportunities are easy points. We got to get in there and get those offensive rebounds."
Looking ahead, the Phoenix will travel to Hampton University (3-1) Dec. 2. The team has five games left before playing its first CAA game against Northeastern.