CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte had two players tally double-doubles and another reach a career-high in scoring but it was not enough to put away Furman, who inched past the 49ers in women’s basketball action Sunday, 76-75, inside Halton Arena. Four Niners registered double-figure points throughout the contest but the Paladins countered with four of their own.
Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler was one of the Charlotte (5-7) players with a double-double, as she posted 12 points and a career-best 14 rebounds in just 27 minutes. Sophomore Kira Gordon added her first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, giving the 49ers two players with a double-double in the same game for the first time since Jennifer Hailey and Amanda Dowe did it March 21, 2013, against Appalachian State in the WNIT First Round.
Senior Ny Hammonds dropped in a career-high 25 points, surpassing the 21 she scored at UNC Wilmington Dec. 5, 2012. It marked the third 20-plus point effort of her career and second this season.
Juniors Hillary Sigmon and Olivia Rankin chipped in 12 and six points, respectively. Sigmon’s dozen all came from behind the 3-point arc, matching freshman Ciara Gregory’s performance at Davidson Dec. 21, while Rankin hit all three of her field goals off the bench in eight minutes.
Holli Wilkins paced the Paladins with 19 points, while Brittany Hodges contributed a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. Brigid Morrissey recorded another double-double, though it came from 11 points and 12 assists, while Whitney Bunn notched 13 points off the bench to round out the four Furman (7-6) players in double figures.
In a game that featured nine lead changes and 14 ties, neither team was able to pull away by more than eight points as the 49ers did early. However, it came down to opportunities at the end that would prove costly for Charlotte.
Hammonds had helped the Niners build a four-point cushion, 74-70, with 2:43 left with a pair of free throws coming out of the final media timeout. On the ensuing Paladin possession, Morrissey drained her second triple of the afternoon to pull the visitors within one.
After the teams traded shots not falling, Sarah Durdaller’s old-fashioned three-point play at 1:25 pushed Furman ahead, 76-74. A missed trey resulted in the Paladins regaining control, but Charlotte forced a turnover and a foul call with under 20 seconds remaining. Hammonds toed the stripe but she made just 1-of-2, leaving her team a point short of knotting the score once again.
The rebound was grabbed by Furman, and being forced to foul, the 49ers put Morrissey at the line. She missed the charity toss and Gordon hauled in the carom, setting up another Charlotte opportunity. Hammonds drove to the basket, but her layup was blocked by Hodges with 2.2 seconds to go. Hammonds immediately fouled her defender from the previous play and Hodges’ free throw rimmed out, giving the Niners one last chance but Gordon’s three-quarters court-length launch fell way short.
Charlotte started by making only one of its first nine shots but seven offensive rebounds kept the ball on its side of the court. The 49ers inched out to a 4-0 advantage behind Gordon’s first layup at 16:17 before back-to-back triples by Sigmon pushed the edge to eight, 10-2, at 14:54. It would be the largest lead for either team the entire contest.
The Paladins crawled back into the game with a 14-2 spurt over the next 6:14, claiming their first lead, 15-12, on a Wilkins trey at the 10:05 mark. Only a pair of Gordon free throws at 13:43 provided points for Charlotte during the stretch.
The Niners battled back to make it 16-16 by the 8:49 mark and the teams traded conversions with three more ties in the next two-and-a-half minutes. Hodges’ layup at 5:04 gave Furman a 26-23 edge, but Gordon answered with a traditional three-point play less than a minute later to force another deadlock, 26-26.
Hodges put the Paladins back on top by two but Hammonds then connected on consecutive jumpers to give Charlotte the lead, 30-28, with 2:05 remaining. It was the 49ers’ first time ahead since 12:45 of the opening period.
The eighth and final tie of the stanza came a short time later before four-straight points increased Charlotte’s advantage to four, 34-30, entering the final minute. Bunn then buried two 3-pointers in the last 46 seconds to send the visitors into the locker room up 36-34.
As the second half started, a Durdaller layup and old-fashioned three-point play from Wilkins in the first minute allowed Furman to swell its lead to seven, 41-34. The gap remained seven when Hammonds tallied the next 11 Niners points over a near-three minute span to pull Charlotte within one, 48-47, at 15:18.
Bunn hit two more free throws at 14:20 but Sigmon knocked down another 3-pointer on the next 49ers possession to cause the ninth tie, 50-50, with 14:08 to play. The score was tied again at 53 apiece at 12:51 before Sigmon’s final trey 55 seconds later put the Niners on top, 56-53.
Morrissey would answer with a triple of her own at 10:46 and Wilkins connected on a long-range bomb herself for a 59-58 Paladins edge with 10:16 remaining. Rankin’s three-straight 17-footers kept Charlotte within striking distance and two Tyler free throws at 7:16 knotted things up once again, at 64-64.
Two more ties lit up the scoreboard in the next two minutes before Hammonds hit back-to-back jumpers to push her team ahead by four, 72-68. Morrissey cut the deficit in half following the second Hammonds bucket before she picked up her fourth foul, sending Hammonds to the line to set up the final sequence.
The 49ers will look to get back to their winning ways when they close out the non-conference portion of the schedule with a special Noon tip Friday against in-state foe UNC Wilmington. The contest will serve as the annual Education Day with students from around the area attending the game.
Charlotte Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Cara Consuegra
“I think first of all, you need to give a lot of credit to Furman. I think they came and out played us in pretty much every area. A lot of credit goes to them. For us defensively, it’s just a really disappointing effort. I thought we just had a lack of urgency throughout the entire game. I’m not sure we locked in and focused the way we needed to because we got beat in one on one situations against what personnel we gave our players. It was a lack of focus on the game plan and a lack of focus on having urgency to play well. Anytime you give up 76 points, and let a team shoot 50% and 53% from the three on your home court, you’re not going to win those games. To me, that’s the biggest thing that stands out. I thought offensively, we started very slow, but we picked that up. I believe in Ny Hammonds, and any time she has the ball in transition, I’m never going to call a timeout because I believe in her. It comes down to, if we really want to play defense. If we can do that, then we can become the team we are capable of.”
On the offense in this game
“We practiced a lot on offense in the past few days and that’s what we looked like in practice. The bigger lesson is that you play like you practice, and you can’t hope on things changing. You have to work and prepare yourself. We struggled the last two days on shooting the ball and I don’t know why. We have to be better about it in practice.”
Senior Ny Hammonds
On the final seconds of the game
“ I felt like I had an open lane, so I took it but I didn’t finish it. I was fouled a little bit, but I missed.
On what to take from this game moving forward
“Obviously, the free throws. I have to practice every day. I should have made that last free throw.”
Junior Hillary Sigmon
On Furman’s defense
“They weren’t doing anything particularly to make us miss shots. We missed shots because it was a lack of focus on our end.”