Going into her first season for Elon University women’s basketball, freshman point guard Maraja Pass didn’t envision herself taking on a significant role for the team. 

But as the season has progressed, so has her value to the team. 

In 29 games this season, Pass has started 19 of her last 23 games. Her 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds are currently second best for Elon’s women’s basketball, while her 3.7 assists lead the team. Only four other players in the Coastal Atlantic Conference averaged more assists this season than Pass, according to Coastal Athletic Association's Women’s Basketball Conference Statistics.

Although Elon’s record is 11-20, she has been a bright spot in what has been an otherwise disappointing season. Pass has won CAA Rookie of the Week honors three times, and was selected to the 2024 CAA All-Rookie Team. She was the sixth player ever to represent Elon in that category. 

“It really means a lot, just to see all my hard work come into fruition,” Pass said. 

She said she appreciated the coaching staff for giving her the opportunity to excel as a freshman. Pass attributes her success to their belief in her ability to handle a large amount of responsibility.

Pass said she also welcomes the coaches challenging her to play better throughout the season because she knows they are trying to get her to play to the best of her abilities.

“They helped me build confidence in myself to play,” Pass said. “It is a pretty big role, but they always told me that they know they’re asking a lot for a freshman, but you just got to step up and do what I need to help the team.”

Pass said a breakout moment during her season occurred during her performance against Marshall. Despite losing 84-77, Pass flirted with a triple double, to finish a game with double digits in three of five statistical categories – points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, tallying 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. She also made a personal-best ten shots on 50% shooting. 

“I think that’s when I knew that OK, I really can help the team win,” Pass said. “I just need to stay focused and keep working hard.”

That was part of a six-game stretch where Pass averaged 14.8 points and 5.5 assists. 

Even with her success, Pass still wants to improve upon certain skills such as developing a consistent three-pointer. As of now, out of the 26 shots she has attempted from the three-point line, she has made eight of them. 

But the main area Pass wants to build on is continuing to grow as a leader. 

“Learning how to communicate in a calm demeanor and learning how to lead has been one of my biggest skills that I’ve learned this season,” Pass said. “I’m working on getting a more consistent pull up and three, but I think leadership has been the most important skill set that I’ve learned.”

Junior transfer forward Iycez Adams credited Pass for accepting the challenge. She recognized the significance of excelling at point guard -- arguably the most important position in basketball since they are tasked with setting up the offense every possession. 

Adams has admired Pass’ desire to become a better player and teammate. She described it as being contagious to everyone else. 

“She can be hard-headed at times, but at the end of the day, she wants to learn and be better regardless of what that role may take,” Adams said. “It glows on her own accord.”

Like Pass, Adams is in her first season with Elon, having transferred from East Carolina University. She also has a critical role on the team, leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks. 

Adams listed her and Pass’ previous experience playing basketball as a key factor to their ability to contribute as first year players. 

“We came from programs where we were asked to do a lot,” Adams said. “It’s not too different from what we’ve known, and we’re learning to do whatever it takes to win at the end of the day.”

Elon’s most recent game was on March 9 at Schar Center where they lost to Drexel University 56-43. 

Their first game of the CAA Tournament will be on March 14 at 12 p.m. against Campbell University at Entertainment & Sport Arena in Washington D.C. Pass and Adams stressed the need to begin the game with lots of energy and physicality. 

“I look to go in very confident and aggressive from the jump,” Pass said. “We just need everybody to play at their best level and be confident in their abilities.”