CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte women’s basketball team played one of its best defensive efforts of the season, holding UCF to an opponent-low field goal percentage, in trumping the Knights, 62-52, Saturday night inside Halton Arena in Charlotte, N.C. The 49ers remain unbeaten at home in 2013-14 and improve to 16-4 inside their friendly confines during the last two seasons.
Charlotte (2-3) limited the previously unbeaten UCF squad to just 32.4 percent from the floor, including a 22.9 percent outing during the opening period. The Knights connected on just 16.7 percent of their shots from behind the 3-point arc.
Meanwhile, the 49ers dropped in 39.1 percent as a team and were aided by a 51-to-42 battle on the glass, grabbing the most team boards since they hauled in 50 against Coppin State Jan. 3, 2013. It marks the second-straight year in which Charlotte topped the 50-rebound plateau against UCF, after it collected 54 in last season’s meeting in Orlando.
Sophomore Alexis Alexander led all players with a career-high 12 rebounds, including 11 on the defensive glass. Classmate Kira Gordon corralled nine caroms, one shy of her career best, to go along with her game-high 16 points to fall just short of a double-double for the second-straight game.
Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds, while senior Ny Hammonds had a stat-stuffer performance of nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Zykira Lewis paced UCF (4-1) with 14 points and nine rebounds, edging out Andrea Hines by a point for team-high scoring honors. Brittni Montgomery matched Lewis with nine boards. The Knights’ leading scorer, Briahanna Jackson, who entered the contest averaging 20.3 points per game, was held to just nine on 3-of-11 shooting.
A close game to start saw UCF open a 10-5 lead at 14:27 behind a Montgomery layup. However, the 49ers responded with an 8-0 run with four different players contributing, to surge ahead, 15-10, with 8:11 left. Charlotte would not relinquish its lead the remainder of the contest.
Three free throws helped the Knights trim the deficit to two, 15-13, with 7:44 to play, but a 12-2 spurt over the next seven minutes put the Niners firmly ahead, 27-15, with under a minute to go. Again, the scoring was shared throughout the team with five different players putting points in the column during the run. Charlotte maintained its 12-point cushion, 29-17, on a pair of Alexander free throws with under three seconds left, but a defensive lapse allowed Jordan Jackson to bury a halftime buzzer-beating triple to cut the gap to single digits, 29-20, at the break.
Tyler opened the second stanza with a layup, making it a double-figure advantage once again and ensuring the edge would never again fall into single digits. The difference became 14, 36-22, on the front-end of two foul shots by Gordon at 17:43. UCF dropped the gap to 10, 38-28, within a three-minute span, but an Ayanna Holmes jumper and old-fashioned three-point play by Gordon on an in-bounds play gave the 49ers their largest lead to that point of 15, 43-28, at 11:57.
Charlotte padded its edge to 16 less than three minutes later before a layup from Hammonds at 5:52 made it an 18-point game, 53-35. UCF mounted a charge late, closing the game on a 17-9 run, but could get no closer than 10 following Briahanna Jackson’s triple with seven seconds remaining to decide the final outcome.
The 49ers will remain at home for their next contest, a 7 p.m. Tuesday clash with nearby Winthrop. It will mark the first regular-season contest between the local schools since 2008. All the action can be followed by live video and live stats on Charlotte49ers.com, while updates can also be found on Twitter @49erGameDay. Josh Feldman will provide the audio for the live video stream.
Charlotte 49ers Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Cara Consuegra
“I thought this was a great win for our team. I feel this was a perfect example of what are team wants to be known for. We want to dominate in transition. I thought we absolutely dominated them in transition. They could not run with us. We wore them down. We kept sending more people at them. We got a lot of easy baskets on the fast break.
“We want to be known as a great defensive team. I thought defensively we did a much better job tonight than we have done all season long. Being out there deflecting, disrupting and holding them to 32 percent shooting. We did a great job against No. 23 Briahanna Jackson. She came in here with a 30-point outing, to only have 11 shots. With one at the buzzer and holding her to nine points, I thought Ayanna (Holmes) and the rest of the defense was incredible.
“We want to be known as a great rebounding team. We struggled with that this season. Our team really took it to heart. I think they were upset about our rebounding margin. For us to out-rebound a team that was much bigger than us at almost every position by nine rebounds; it is an outstanding effort by our team.
“It was just a great example of what we want to be as a team. When we can do those three things, we are going to win a lot of games.”
On focus of practices on defense and rebounding
“Rebounding has been a focus since our first game. We have been out-rebounded too much this season. I think our team had a chip on their shoulder and not let it happen anymore. We boxed out better tonight than I have seen our team box out in all of my years here.
“Defensively we want to be better. We were not happy with how many points we gave up, but we also had a big focus offensively as well. I thought we ran things a lot better. We got out on transition better as well.”
On turning things around after road trip
“You improve by making changes. You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect to become better. We probably had two of our best practices all year in the last two days. You can see the product of that.
“Our record doesn’t indicate the team that we are or the team that we can be. I am proud of the team for recognizing that and wanting to be better and showing that tonight.”
Sophomore forward Kira Gordon
On changes to her game during the second half
“Coach told us coming out of the locker room to come out with the same energy. We were doing well in the first half and I tried to maintain that intensity.”
On seeing more playing time and being a leader on the floor
“I look up to Gabby (Tyler) most of the time. I try to follow what she does. I try to bring the same amount of energy and try to rebound to help her out.”
Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler
On her role this year after departures of senior class
“I am willing to step up and do whatever I can to help this team win. If that means rebound, scoring or great defense, then I am all for it.”