|Sunday matinee pits 49ers against Gamecocks|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte women’s basketball will return to the hardwood at 2 p.m. Sunday when it plays host to No. 12/10 South Carolina inside Halton Arena. Due to the end of the fall semester and final exams, it marks the only game for the 49ers in a two-week span.
Charlotte, which has not played since Sunday in the Lady Rebel Round-Up in Las Vegas, brings a 4-4 record into the contest. However, the Niners are 3-0 inside Halton Arena with victories over previously unbeaten opponents each time.
Junior Hillary Sigmon paced the 49ers in the Las Vegas tournament, scoring a combined 44 points in just two games. She poured in a career-best 22 both times, leading all players. She has moved into the top spot on Charlotte’s scoring chart with an 11.5 points per game average entering Sunday.
Sigmon, however, is not the only Niners player with a double-figure mark. Joining her are sophomore Kira Gordon (10.5 ppg) and senior Ny Hammonds (10.3) to provide a balanced attack. Gordon’s 56.9 field goal percentage leads the squad among players who have attempted at least 20 shots.
The 49ers have also turned around their rebounding numbers after a slow start on the glass to begin the campaign. Charlotte has closed to within four-and-a-half boards per contest, led in part by sophomore Alexis Alexander’s team-best 7.3 average. Alexander hauled in 10 rebounds to go with 13 points versus Cincinnati at the Las Vegas-based tournament for her first career double-double and the first by a Niners player this season.
South Carolina owns a perfect 8-0 ledger and has risen to No. 12 in the Associated Press and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ polls this week under the direction of sixth-year head coach Dawn Staley, a three-time Olympian and member of the first WNBA All-Decade Team.
The Gamecocks are winning by an average of 34.4 points per game, including most recently handing North Carolina Central a 79-27 setback Monday night. USC is 3-0 in away contests, having faced in-state rival Clemson before heading to California for a pair of tilts with San Diego State and Southern California.
Like Charlotte, South Carolina features a trio of double-digit scorers. Tiffany Mitchell leads the pack with 15.0 points per game, followed by Aleighsa Welch at 13.5 ppg and Alaina Coates at 13.3.
Coates edges Welch for the team lead on the boards, collecting 8.6 per game to 8.4.
The Gamecocks finished last year with an NCAA Tournament Second Round appearance and a 25-8 record, including a school-record 11 in the SEC.
The 49ers trail in the all-time series 16-6, though they handed USC a 69-57 loss in the WNIT Second Round March 20, 2011, in the last meeting. Charlotte has won two of the last five contests between the two schools.
The Niners also are just 2-32 in their history against nationally-ranked opponents, including an 0-14 mark when the foe in listed in the Top 10.
Sunday’s game is touted as Free Youth Day, as all fans 17 and under will be admitted free. It’s also Senior Citizen Day with $1 admission for anyone at least 55 years of age.
Fans who bring a new, unwrapped toy to the game for the annual Toys for Tots drive will also be admitted free.
Links for live video with audio play-by-play provided by Josh Feldman and live stats are available on Charlotte49ers.com, while updates can also be found on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.
INSIDE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL