|Niners roll past Bulls in exhibition contest|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Turnovers were the story early and often, as Charlotte wound up forcing 27 Johnson C. Smith miscues in Saturday’s 98-46 victory in women’s basketball exhibition action inside Halton Arena. Seven 49ers reached double-figure scoring, while junior Olivia Rankin posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in the regular-season tune-up.
Sophomore Kira Gordon led the pack of scorers with 15 points, connecting on 6-of-7 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws to go along with her eight rebounds. Her efforts on the glass, combined with Rankin’s output, helped Charlotte create a 48-to-20 margin in the category.
Junior Hillary Sigmon chipped in 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while freshman Lefty Webster paced the rookies with 12 points off the bench. Fellow freshman Ciara Gregory buried a pair of triples among her 11 points and redshirt junior Gabby Tyler and sophomore Tori Carter each registered 10 points to round out the balanced attack.
Karnina Bunch was the lone Golden Bull in double digits with 10 points, one more than starter Quinesha Lynch. Johnson C. Smith struggled to find the bottom of the net, converting only 35.6 percent of its field goals, including 0-of-4 from behind the arc.
Charlotte dropped in 55.4 percent of its field goals, featuring a blistering 54.5 percentage rate from long range.
The 49ers tallied 35 points off the turnovers they forced, racing out to 24 second-chance points and 27 fast-break points. Charlotte, despite the graduation of its two best post players from a year ago, dominated the low block with a 56-to-24 points-in-the-paint margin.
The Niners sprinted out to a 13-0 start through the opening seven minutes, as the Golden Bulls failed to connect on their first four shots and were forced into seven turnovers during the early stretch. The margin swelled to 15, 21-6, at 10:46 when Gordon knocked down the front-end of her trip to the foul line.
Gregory’s trey at the 8:03 mark extended the gap to 19, 27-8, but not before another Charlotte spurt of 9-to-4 over the course of the next four-and-a-half minutes made it a 36-to-12 game with 3:33 left in the opening period.
Five-straight points by sophomore Ayanna Holmes sandwiched a LaTondra Morrow jumper, pushing the margin to 25, 41-16, with 2:08 left. Webster then ignited a half-closing 9-0 surge with a 3-pointer, padding the cushion to 33, 50-17, at intermission.
Sigmon drained a trifecta to start the second half and added another at 17:31 to close an 11-2 run in the opening minutes to increase the margin to 42, 61-19. Carter drained an old-fashioned three-point play during the run.
By the 14:07 mark, Webster connected on the second of her two-shot opportunity to make it a 49-point difference, 72-23. The Golden Bulls then responded with an 11-0 sport, featuring seven points from Lynch, to close within 38, 72-34, at 11:26.
With the 49ers clinging to a 41-point advantage entering the final eight minutes, Charlotte tallied a 10-2 stretch, capped by another Gregory long-range conversion, to increase the JCSU deficit back to 49, 89-40.
The closest the Golden Bulls would get the remainder of the contest would be 45 following a Lynch layup at 3:01. Charlotte registered the final seven points, the last coming on an old-fashioned three-point play by Gregory, to secure the game’s largest margin at 52 points.
The 49ers return to action at 5 p.m. Friday when they open the regular season against 2013 NCAA Tournament participant Liberty. It will again be the first of a Charlotte basketball doubleheader inside Halton Arena.
Friday’s action can be viewed via a subscription on Charlotte49ers.com with Josh Feldman handling play-by-play duties. Live stats will also be linked on the website, while updates can be found on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.
Women’s Basketball Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Cara Consuegra
• Opening statement
“I think it was a good first game for us. There were a lot of positives and I told the team in the locker room that we had a lot of positives. We played a lot of people and dispersed our play pretty evenly, which was our game plan going in. We wanted to see different combinations and different rotations. Overall, defensively we had 27 turnovers and over 40 deflections, which is a goal for our program, and 14 steals. A really good job by our team, in a lot of ways defensively which has been our focus for this season. We wanted to be a better defensive team. Our offense did well too with 24 assists and we had seven people in double figures, which was awesome to see. Also seeing some of our young players play was important for me as well.”
• On differences defensively compared to last season
“No. 1 there’s is more of an emphasis from the coaching staff to have that type of pressure defense everyday in practice. We are starting to embrace that and are getting better every day. I think overall we have a better group of defenders that we have ever had defensively from years past. We brought in better athletes in terms of our freshmen and that combination together has made us better.”
• On multiple players shooting 3-pointers
“It’s very helpful, obviously. We have a good balance offensively and probably the best balanced offensively in my time here as a head coach. We have players who could put the ball on the floor and penetrate, some who can get the shot clock down, and some who can do both. We haven’t quite had that combination of players who could do both, and it’s nice to have that versatility at the guard because it makes us a lot better. It makes it hard for teams to double-team Gabby (Tyler).”
• On perimeter defenders
“We’ve got to be better containing the ball. I would say that’s the one area I was not pleased with. I thought we did not do a good job containing the ball. We’ve been on our team so much about pressure, well you can pressure so much that you’re so tight and letting things get by you.”
Junior Hillary Sigmon
• On the different role this year compared to last year’s
“I just think, rebounding and helping the post. I know I haven’t been crashing [the boards] my first two years. I wasn’t looking to do that because of Jenn (Hailey) and Amanda (Dowe). But I think my role now is rebounding, and getting to the paint more.”
• On leadership role difference
“It’s changed a lot. Talking especially. I’ve had to step up and lead with Gabby and Ny (Hammonds). Talking on the court is one big change for me.”
Sophomore Kira Gordon
• On this year’s role compared to last year
“It’s just different. We need to score now and we have to rebound now. Boxing out is a big deal in practice and we have to fill last year’s shoes basically.”
INSIDE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL