The Elon University women’s basketball team kicked off its regular season with a 70-46 victory against Virginia Union University Nov. 12 in Alumni Gym. But for head coach Charlotte Smith, her first season with the Phoenix still looks like a challenge.
“It feels great to get the win,” Smith said. “We’re excited. But when I went into the locker room, they were sitting there like it’s a funeral. They know there is still a lot to work on.”
Smith joined the Phoenix after nine seasons as an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina. She plans to use her skills as one of the most decorated players in Tar Heel history to bolster the Phoenix.
“We need to make a commitment to rebound,” she said. “The defense and rebounds are things we can control. We’ll work on that.”
Although the team “got out of the gates pretty slow,” according to Smith, the second half showed both offensive and defensive stamina. With a five point lead to start the second half, the team found its rhythm when shooting from the field, reaching an overall 45 percent accuracy.
Junior guard Ali Ford led the team with 26 points. Despite this, she said there were more things the Phoenix could work on.
“We’ve just got to get better at taking care of the ball,” Ford said. “We forced them into a good number of turnovers, but we had some ourselves.”
Despite a strong finish, the team knows what it needs to improve to have a successful season. Ford said the players need to “concentrate a lot on the process,” and work to iron out easy plays and continue to focus on conditioning.
During the game, Ford passed Jamie McNeely for 17th place on Elon’s all-time scoring list, bringing Ford’s career points to 1,089.
The milestone did not affect her determination to take the team to new heights. Ford said she was unaware of the ranking and has more to look forward to.
“We’re not finished yet,” she said.
The Phoenix will be back in Alumni Gym at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18, when the team challenges Virginia Intermont College.