Elon falls to West Virginia in NCAA women's basketball tournament

The loss caps a historic season for the team, which netted regular season and conference tournament championships and headed to the "big dance" for the first time. 

Elon's Essence Baucom drives against a West Virginia defender during Friday's game
What a team and what a run. 

A historic season for the Elon University women’s basketball team came to a close Friday afternoon in College Park, Maryland, after the team dropped a hard-fought game against West Virginia University in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

Shay Burnett drives the lane during Friday's NCAA tournament game.
​The Phoenix fell to West Virginia 75 to 62 in the university’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament in its history. The team, led by starters Lauren Brown, Shay Burnett, Jenifer Rhodes, Essence Baucom and Malaya Johnson, kept the game close through much of the game, with a one-point deficit at halftime.

“I think this game is a tough pill for all of us to swallow,” said Elon head coach Charlotte Smith. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team for the way that they came out and played. We had a great game plan and executed and did a lot of things well today.”

Coach Charlotte Smith talks to her team during a time out. 
Seniors Shay Burnet and Lauren Brown led the way for the Phoenix in scoring on the day, with 19 and 17 points respectively. The game was tied at 53 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, but West Virginia was able to pull away. The Mountaineers advance to the tournament’s second round, where they will face the University of Maryland on its home court. 

The Phoenix ends the season with a record of 27-7, which marks its best record in the team’s Division I history. Elon racked up the wins en route to a regular season Colonial Athletic Association championship and a conference tournament championship that earned a spot for the team in the NCAA tournament. 

​Head coach Charlotte Smith was named the CAA Coach of the Year by the conference, with Brown taking home the Dean Ehlers Leadership Award while also being named to the 2016-17 CAA All-Academic Team. For a second year in a row, Burnett was named an All-CAA First Team member and she was joined by Rhodes, an All-CAA Third Team honoree.

Alumni, parents and fans gathered in Maryland to cheer the team on while the first floor of the Moseley Center filled with students, faculty and staff to watch the game.