ATLANTA - Charlotte built a 19-point cushion in the second
half only to see it trimmed to single digits before fending off a charging
Mississippi Valley State squad, 63-48, in the consolation game of the GSU
Holiday & Hoops Tournament in the GSU Sports Arena in Atlanta.
The 49ers were led by 18 points from sophomore Hillary Sigmon, including five 3-pointers, as she finished just a point shy of her career-best outing. She topped the double-digit scoring plateau for the fifth-consecutive contest.
Senior Jennifer Hailey added her eighth double-double of the season and 28th of her career with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while extending her consecutive games streak with at least one blocked shot to 24.
Classmate Amanda Dowe hauled in game-high 16 rebounds, including 13 on the defensive glass. Junior Ny Hammonds, the nation's leader in assists per game, handed out 11 helpers to set a new career best.
As a team, the Niners finished with 16 assists on 23 field goals made and made 12-of-16 free throws.
Mississippi Valley State placed two players in double-figure scoring, led by Alia Frank's 14. Jasmyne Sanders added 10 off the bench. Frank was also the team's leader in rebounds with five, as Charlotte controlled the battle by winning it, 41-27.
The 49ers were able to quickly build a double-digit lead following an Alexis Alexander layup at the 13:10 mark to make it a 14-4 contest. The field goal capped an 11-0 spurt, as Charlotte (9-3) reversed a 4-3 deficit in just over four minutes of action.
After the Devilettes closed within six on a Lenise Stallings, 16-10, at 12:04, back-to-back Hailey jumpers pushed it back to a double-figure advantage. Mississippi Valley State (3-8) then tallied the next five, including a fadeaway jumper and plus-one from Alia Frank with exactly 10 minutes left to make it a five-point Niners edge, 20-15.
Sigmon capped a 9-2 Charlotte run with her second triple of the period, extending the margin to a dozen, 29-17, with 7:11 left. Although the Devilettes cut it to 10, they would get no closer the remainder of the half as Dowe hit a 12-footer from the wing to give the 49ers their largest lead at 17, 36-19, with just 1:19 remaining.
The final five points would fall into Mississippi Valley State's basket, including an Olivia Kennedy 3-pointer with 24 seconds to play, to pull within 12 at the intermission, 36-24.
The Niners turned the dozen-point edge at the break into a 19-point advantage just over two minutes into the second period. The stanza-opening 9-2 surge was capped by a Sigmon 3-pointer at 17:51, giving Charlotte a 45-28 lead.
Once the game's largest margin was built, it seemed to fade away just as quickly as the Niners offense went cold. The Devilettes' Sanders sister duo of Jasmyne and Joncyee tallied the next six points, spaced out over a seven-minute stretch, to pull MVSU within 13, 45-32. The 49ers would not score again until Hailey hit a layup at 10:40.
Mississippi Valley State continued to find the bottom of the net, while Charlotte could not convert. Jasmyne Sanders closed her team within 10, 52-42, with 7:38 to play. The margin stayed at 10 through a Frank old-fashioned three-point play with 5:11 remaining to make it a 55-45 Niners lead.
Following a 49ers turnover, Davina Jefferson hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and the cushion was down to seven, 55-48, with 5:01 left. It marked the first single-digit lead for Charlotte in over 22 minutes. However, the final eight points went to the Niners, as Hammonds took control. She connected on the team's last three field goals and helped clinch the victory by shutting down Devilette offense during the final five minutes.
Charlotte returns to action after the New Year when it plays host to Coppin State at Noon Thursday as the 49ers will welcome nearly 5,000 local elementary students to Halton Arena for the annual Education Day. The contest will open a stretch of four out of five games at home to begin the 2013 calendar slate for the Niners.