The Elon University women’s basketball team trounced the UNC Wilmington Seahawks 64-43 on Feb. 23. Dominant performances from seniors Brie Perpignan and Evonna McGill propelled the Phoenix to its fifth straight win.
Elon jumped out to a 5-0 lead following a deep three pointer from senior guard Peyton Carter. However, the Phoenix caught a cold spell, and the Seahawks capitalized. They staged a 6-0 run to take the lead before the media timeout.
Following the timeout, head coach Charlotte Smith said she sensed that a change needed to be made. Enter senior center Evonna McGill, who had an immediate impact, putting up a quick four points for Elon.
“We were in a drought. I sent Evonna in, and I said ‘we need buckets,’” Smith said. “I know when Evonna’s in the game, we get buckets. It’s good to have her back”
After McGill’s first two baskets, UNCW opted to send another defender to double-team her. On Elon’s next trip up the floor, McGill got the ball in the post and was met by two defenders. However, it didn’t matter, as McGill was still able to score. On the way back down the floor, she shrugged, imitating Michael Jordan’s signature move after scoring an important basket in the 1992 NBA Finals.
Rejuvenated by the dominant play of McGill, the Phoenix forced two consecutive shot clock violations, and was able to take back the lead by the end of the first, 11-8.
Behind the strong defensive performance and the dominance of McGIll, the Phoenix finally found its groove again. Sophomore forward Ajia James hit a three from the top of the key to cap off a 15-3 run. With about six minutes left in the second quarter, Elon had managed to make it 20-9. By halftime, the score was 27-16.
The Phoenix slowed slightly in the third, and UNCW managed to close the lead to eight. However, McGill hit a momentum swaying and-one, and Elon never looked back. Another run made the score 43-25 at the end of the third.
From there, Elon coasted to its fifth straight victory. The 21 point victory is tied for the team’s second highest margin of victory on the season.
“We like to pay attention to the streak but we don’t like to get too caught up in the streak,” McGill said. “At the end of the day, you have to take it game by game and respect all of our opponents.”
McGill finished with 13 points and three rebounds. Perpignan scored 14 points on 4-8 shooting.
That victory makes the Phoenix 7-7 in conference play. They currently sit in fifth place in the Colonial Athletic Association, but since James Madison University cannot compete in conference championships this year because of their pending move to the Sun Belt Conference, they would be the fourth seed in the CAA tournament if it began today. Behind them lurks Northeastern University and the College of Charleston, who are one and one and a half games behind the Phoenix. Four regular season games remain for Elon.
On Friday, Elon travels to Newark to take on the 18-6 University of Delaware Blue Hens, who are 12-2 in conference play. The Blue Hens beat the Phoenix by 22 in their previous matchup on Jan. 30.
Smith said she knows the answer that will help the Phoenix upset the Blue Hens.
“Boxing out,” Smith said. “Our initial defense is holding opponents to only about 25% field goal percentage. It’s the second chance opportunities that have hurt us in the past.”