The Elon University women’s basketball team was defeated at home in a Saturday matchup against Wingate University. With an efficient first half, Wingate was able to build a big lead going into halftime, which would ultimately pave the way to a 72-53 victory and be Wingate’s sixth win of the season. 

Wingate had four players finish in double figures with graduate guard Hannah Clark, a preseason second team all South Atlantic Conference selection, leading the way with 17 points. 

Offensively, Elon started the game on a 6-0 run and although Wingate responded with a 7-0 run of their own, a three pointer by sophomore guard Regina Walton helped them reclaim the lead at 9-7. 

Michael Wolff | Elon News Network

Elon freshman Maraja Pass defends as guard Hannah Clark drives the ball for the bulldogs. The Elon University women's basketball team fell to the bulldogs 73-53 at the Schar Center Dec. 2.

Yet, that would be the last time Elon led as Wingate would outscore them 19-7 the rest of the first quarter. Wingate’s offense was paced by a combined 17 points in the period from Clark, and fellow preseason second team All-SAC honoree Emily Hege. 

The second quarter was more of the same for Wingate, as they would sustain their double-digit advantage, with junior guard Anna Baraldi leading a balanced scoring attack with two, three pointers. Her second three expanded Wingate’s lead to over 20, before a layup by freshman forward Lia Anderson would double Elon’s scoring output. 

Overall, Wingate shot 53% from the field in the first half, along with a blistering 58% from behind the three point arc en route to a 48-25 lead. Clark was mostly responsible for Wingate’s efficient first half, as she scored 14 points. 

Head coach Charlotte Smith noted Elon’s zone defense as the factor in Wingate’s shooting during the opening half. 

“We went into rotation and anytime you go into rotation, you’re having to suck in and give help,” Smith said. “That creates open opportunities for threes.” 

Elon never got closer than 11 points during the second quarter as they shot under 30% overall while turning the ball over seven times.  

They did have a strong start to the third quarter, similarly to the first quarter, as layups from sophomore guard Ruby Willard and Walton sparked five straight points to begin the period.

Wingate Guard Emily Hege shoots a free throw during the first half of the Bulldogs 73-53 win over the Elon University Women's basketball team at the Schar Center on Dec. 2.

The Phoenix also made notable strides on defense, holding Wingate scoreless until the 6:18 mark, a precursor to a half that saw Wingate only make eight field goals. Junior transfer forward Iycez Adams was particularly hard to miss on the defensive end, swatting two shots and tallying three steals in that span.

“I made adjustments to be more aggressive and I told them I’ll take this loss,” Smith said. “We should have pressed them from the jump ball.”

While Elon managed to somewhat cut Wingate’s lead, their offensive production didn’t improve that much. They went through a three-minute scoring drought before later topping that with a seven-minute drought that lasted just over four minutes in the final period. This ultimately kept them from inching closer — with Wingate already up by 22 points before Elon’s next basket. 

By the end of the contest, Elon had proceeded to convert just over 30% of their shots while notching more turnovers than assists at 12 and 10, respectively.. 

Though Wingate didn’t shoot as well in the second half, they did more than enough in the first half to where they didn’t have to replicate their offensive production. 

They additionally saw their injury woes worsen with graduate guard Vanessa Taylor joining sophomore guard Raven Preston — the reigning Coastal Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Year — on the injured list.

With their second consecutive loss, Elon fell to 2-6. As for Wingate, the victory improves their record to 6-2.    

Following their second straight loss, Elon will have an eight-day stretch of no games before traveling to play the University of North Carolina Greensboro women’s basketball team at 2 p.m. in Greensboro.