The Elon University women’s basketball team defeated the Monmouth University Hawks Friday night by a score of 57-48, improving to 8-17 on the season and 4-10 in Colonial Athletic Association play. The Phoenix constricted Monmouth offensively, forcing them to shoot 31% from the field and 13% from three. 

To start the game, the teams matched every basket until the score read 6-6 with four minutes left in the first. The Phoenix, much to the appeal of head coach Charlotte Smith, turned up the defensive intensity. 

“Defense is a point of focus for every game,” Smith said. “Every single game.”

Enter graduate student center Evonna McGill, who immediately shut the paint down defensively. The effort began with a great closeout by freshman guard Chloe Williams, forcing a travel turnover. Elon marched down the floor and fed the 6-foot-2-inches McGill for an easy turnaround layup. Then, in a 2-3 zone, freshman guard Raven Preston stripped Monmouth’s graduate student guard Jen Louro, taking it coast to coast. 

10 seconds later, senior guard Vannesa Taylor intercepted a Monmouth pass, taking her own coast to coast trip. Elon jumped up 12-6 quickly, thanks to capitalization off perimeter mistakes, forced by the prevention of any shots in the paint by McGill. 

McGill said that focusing on her defensive efforts have been an important part for improving her game. 

“Defense has been a big thing,” McGill said. “I was talking with the coach about how I haven't been giving enough defensive effort. I’ve been focusing on getting rebounds and blocks and being there for my team defensively.”

In the second quarter, Monmouth resisted, tying the game at 16 thanks to a pair of jumpers. Redshirt freshman guard Kamryn Doty took initiative, attacking the rim and shooting off the screen with ease, going on a 6-0 run of her own. The Phoenix capped off the first half with a smooth Williams euro step, going up 29-23. 

Out of the locker room, Elon kept the pressure. Graduate student guard Lenaejha Evans found an inner aggressiveness, attacking the basket at every opportunity. McGill continued to dominate the paint, blocking any attempt in her vicinity and scoring at ease. Together the two combined for 13 of the team’s 15 third quarter points and two blocks. The lead stood at 9 with 10 minutes remaining. 

The Monmouth Hawks refused to roll over and die easy, scoring a fast break layup with 3:54 remaining to cut the lead to four. The Phoenix faced adversity again, something it had experienced before with this team. 

“Thinking about the last time we played them we were pretty much in control of the game, we just didn’t finish well down the stretch. That’s been a point of emphasis,” Smith said. 

Elon turned to the graduate duo in the heat of challenge. Evans and McGill delivered as the two had all game, propelling the team to a nine point lead. As Elon held the ball, watching the time expire, the Schar Center rose, celebrating the earned victory.  

Evans poured in 17 points and six rebounds, while McGill posted 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Elon on the day did not make any three point shots, but dominated the paint, scoring 40 paint points. 

“We made sure we got paint points,” Smith said. “Shot 24 threes last game. Anytime you get 40 points in the paint you’re being aggressive.”

The Phoenix  will host Charleston at 2 p.m. Feb. 19 for its Senior Day game. Elon will have the opportunity to win its fourth in a five game stretch for the first time since Nov. 22.