The Elon University women’s basketball team cruised to victory in an exhibition game against the Pfeiffer University Falcons with an 83-38 victory. Sophomore forward Autumn Carter led all scorers with 24 points on 11 of 15 shooting. Carter also grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot.
Junior guard Zora Stephenson also lit up the scoreboard with 19 points of her own and dished out seven assists.
“I’m really excited about Zora,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “She’s a tremendous leader for us out there and she’s just grasps the system and now she’s teaching players.”
The contest was a game of runs, with the Phoenix getting out to an early 8-0 lead. Pfeiffer then went on a 7-0 run of their own to cut their deficit to just one, but Elon responded with a 13-0 run, capped off by a Kelsey Harris jumper to extend the lead to 21-7.
The two sides exchanged baskets for the remainder of the half with Elon able to extend their lead to 19 as the Phoenix entered the locker room with a 42-23 lead. Elon shot 46.2 percent in the opening frame and held the Falcons to just 33.3 percent from the field.
Carter led the way for the Phoenix in the second half with 12 of her points coming in the second half. The sophomore nearly scored as many points as the entire Pfeiffer team in the second half, coming up just three points short.
“Autumn had a big second half,” Smith said. “Great job getting in there, getting dirty and finishing around the basket.”
The Reidsville, N.C. native was quick to take credit for her performance, and praised her teammates for giving her the chance to shine.
“The biggest thing was we shared the ball so well today,” Carter said. “And I could not have done as well as I did today without the help of my team.”
The Phoenix started two true freshman with point guard Lauren Brown and forward Jennifer Rhodes making their first appearances in the maroon and gold. Brown will be filling in for sophomore Nicole Razor as she recovers from a hip injury. Brown failed to score, shooting 0 of 4 from the field, but did have three assists.
“Lauren’s going to do very well for us,” Smith said. “As a freshman, we’re asking her to step in and fill some big shoes, but she’s a competitor and she’s up for the challenge.”
Rhodes impressed in her first action for the Phoenix, grabbing 15 rebounds and adding in seven points of her own. She shinned with her defensive duties, but still looks to improve her all-around game.
“Rebounding is one of my favorite things, so that came naturally,” Rhodes said. “I definitely tried my best, but offensively I could have done slightly better.”
Rhodes’ performance particularly caught the eye of her head coach and acknowledged her efforts on Saturday afternoon.
“She’s our Tasmanian Devil,” Smith said. “She is always all over the place getting it done on each end of the floor.”
Despite scoring an impressive 83 points and holding Pfeiffer to just 38, the team’s emphasis was put on defense.
“We had spurts of great moments of defense, but I want to see us be consistent for 40 minutes,” Smith said. “We could hit the boards a lot stronger defensively.”
It was strong defensive stretches that allowed the Phoenix to go on extended runs to increase their lead. The last of these leads was an 18-0 run that lasted the final 7:05 of the game.
“With us, or main focus is defense,” Harris said. “Today, we pressed and forced a lot of turnovers and scored fast break lay-ups.”
The blowout contest was a good exercise for the long regular season ahead. For the Phoenix, it was simply enjoyable playing people wearing different colors.
“It’s what we’ve been waiting for,” Carter said. “We’ve been practicing against each other for the past month so it was nice to suit up against some other competition.”
The Phoenix will start the regular season at home in Alumni Gym against in-state opposition Winston-Salem State University Friday, Nov. 8. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. with the men’s basketball team immediately following after the conclusion.