|Volume XXVIII Issue 21||March 13, 2003|
Phoenix women fall in conference semifinal
Nick Palatiello - Reporter
The High Point Panthers rudely interrupted the Phoenix womenís basketball teamís quest for a bid to the NCAA tournament, defeating the Phoenix 80-66 at the Vines Center in Lynchburg, Va.
The Vines Center has not been a friendly arena for the Phoenix to visit this season. The last time that Elon made an appearance there, they were overwhelmed by their host, Liberty University, 66-44. In the semifinals of the Big South Conference tournament, the Phoenix faced the Panthers on March 8.
The opening half started with Courtney Nyborg hitting a jump shot to give Elon its first lead. But an aggressive Panthers offense did not allow the no. 2 seeded Phoenix to take control of the contest. The first half featured six lead changes; the Phoenix led by a mere four points after senior Jayme Chikos hit a jump shot with 15:33 to go in the half. High Point came back quickly, though, and went into the locker room with a 35-32 advantage, thanks to Misty Brockmanís jumper in the final two seconds of the half.
The Panthers came out in the second half and embarked on a long scoring drive. The Panthers scored 10 unanswered points in the halfís opening two minutes. Elon did not score in the first two minutes of play; Anestha Blakeney scored on a foul shot with 17:06 remaining in the half. Elon attempted to chip away the deficit and eventually tied the game at 55 with less than 10 minutes left in the half.
The Phoenix would come no closer, though, and High Point took control of the gameís final seven seconds. The 80-66 victory earned the Panthers a berth in the conference final, but Liberty easily defeated the Panthers en route to their seventh consecutive conference title.
The semifinal performance was an uncharacteristic one for the Phoenix, as they shot just 39.7 percent from the field. Holly Andrews made one of six shots from three-point range and finished the game with seven points. Blakeney led the tea in scoring with 15 points, seven of which came on foul shots. In her final appearance in Phoenix uniform, Chikos paced the team with eight rebounds, seven assists and 13 points against the Panthers.
The early exit came as a disappointment to Elon and coach Brenda Paul. For Blakeney and Chikos, whose Phoenix careers are finished, the abrupt ending to the season does not take away from their phenomenal seasons. Blakeney finished her senior season in second place in the Big South standings in field goal percentage (51.6 percent) and offensive rebounds (3.31 rebounds per game). She concludes her Phoenix career fourth on the Elon record list with 63 career blocks, and eighth in rebounds with 668. Chikos owns the Big South and Elon records for assists with 612.
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