The Elon University women’s basketball team suffered its 10th straight loss on Friday night, losing to the University of Delaware Blue Hens at Schar Center. Elon led by as many as 15, but surrendered the lead on the way to a 71-65 defeat. 

The Phoenix jumped out to a quick start. The Blue Hens opened the game in a 2-3 zone, and Elon attacked. Both Raven Preston and Ajia James found the weak spots in the zone and capitalized, scoring 14 of the team’s eventual 21 first quarter points. On defense, Elon was active and energetic, diving for loose balls and hyping up the team’s bench. They allowed just 11 points and held a commanding 10 point lead after the first quarter. 

To start the second, James caught fire. Following a sidestep midrange, James sunk a deep three to give her 11 points on 5-9 shooting. Thanks to strong defense and offensive rebounds, the Phoenix jumped out to a 15-point lead with a little over five minutes left in the second quarter. However, a resilient Delaware team did not allow the deficit to grow, and converted a four-point play at the end of the half to trail by only six at the break, 38-32.

Immediately in the second half, the Blue Hens picked up where they left off, but the Phoenix did not give up. The teams combined to rattle off 11 straight points, thanks to consecutive threes from guard Lenaejha Evans. The teams traded leads a majority of the quarter, and with one quarter left to play, the score was deadlocked at 54. 

Both teams started off slow in the fourth quarter, going scoreless for the first two minutes. At the 6:16 mark, with the score tied 58-58, the Phoenix had possession and an opportunity to take the lead. However, Elon was unable to capitalize. Turnovers allowed Delaware to take a 67-62 lead. The next trip down the floor, Evonna McGill converted on an and-one layup, making it a two-point game. Needing to get a stop, Elon allowed Delaware guard Nakiyah Mays-Prince to attack the rim, finding fifth year forward Makayla Pippin for the wide-open dagger layup. 

Head coach Charlotte Smith was critical of Elon’s defensive effort and free throw shooting, as the Phoenix finished the game 14-28 from the charity stripe. 

“We just had some defensive collapses in the second half,” Smith said. “And have to knock down free throws.”

Although Elon was unable to hold onto its lead in the second half, Smith said Elon can build on its first-half performance. 

“It speaks volumes to who we are as a team,” Smith said. “We’ve seen our identity. That was displayed in the first half.”

The last win for the Phoenix came on Nov. 27, as this loss is the team’s 10th straight. The team is still in high spirits, according to James, who put up 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists on the night.

“We should not let the losing streak affect us and just stay positive,” James said. “We need to stay together and try to fix the things that aren’t going our way.” 

With the loss, the Phoenix falls to 4-12 on the year and 0-5 in Colonial Athletic Association play. Elon aims to snap its losing streak Sunday when it faces Northeastern at 1 p.m.

“You would think that with this losing streak, there would be tension and no joy,” Smith said. “But there’s love and joy in the atmosphere. We focus and move forward.”