The Elon Phoenix skipped the eggs and bacon Saturday morning at McKenzie Arena and went straight to breakfast turnovers.
In what may be the most remarkable statistical oddity of the 2011 Southern Conference women's basketball tournament, fourth-seeded Elon defeated fifth-seeded Furman 69-62 despite a 33-8 deficit in points off turnovers. The Phoenix committed 24 turnovers in a game with 17 lead changes but had only three miscues in the last 11 minutes.
"That never really happens to us," Elon coach Karen Barefoot said. "It was just the strangest thing. I looked at the stat sheet at halftime and was like, 'Oh my gosh, they're playing our game.' It was really weird, so the second half was key for us as far as being more composed and stepping it up a notch."
Elon (19-11) overcame its mistakes and advanced to today's noon semifinal against top-seeded Appalachian State behind the shooting touch of Aiesha Harper and Ali Ford. Harper went 4-for-4 from the floor in the second half, when she scored 10 of her 15 points, while Ford's game-high 25 points were bolstered by 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range.
The Phoenix trailed 54-50 with six minutes remaining but reeled off 11 consecutive points, a Ford 3-pointer with 4:56 left giving them the lead for good at 55-54.
Kelly O'Connor and Raegan Thompson had early 3-pointers to help stake Furman (14-16) to a 12-5 lead, but a pair of Ford free throws at the 11:37 mark gave Elon its first lead at 13-12. Furman jumped back ahead and led 29-25 at halftime. The Phoenix collected only five assists while committing 16 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.
"We were rushing, and we weren't playing the way we knew we could play," Harper said. "We made a conscious effort in those last 10 minutes to go with the flow."
Kendra Berry led Furman with 23 points, and O'Connor's two 3s gave her 90 this season, tying the SoCon mark set by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Brooke Hand in 2006-07.