CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte outscored North Texas 8-2 in the last 3:30 to slip past the Mean Green Saturday night, 61-59, in Conference USA women’s basketball action inside Halton Arena. The 49ers remain perfect in the 2014 calendar year, winning their third straight for the longest streak of the season.
Charlotte (8-7, 2-0 C-USA) led for the majority of the contest before North Texas fought back to take the lead with just over nine minutes to play. However, the visitors were unable to sustain the advantage down the stretch and the Niners picked up the triumph in the first meeting between the two programs.
Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler led all players with a career-best 22 points on 9-of-12 field goals and 4-of-5 free throws. It marked the first 20-plus scoring contest of her career and just the fifth total among all 49ers this season. She added six rebounds, three blocked shots, two assists and a steal in 32 minutes.
Sophomore Kira Gordon nearly added her second career double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, including eight on the defensive glass, to give Charlotte a pair in double-figure scoring.
Senior Ny Hammonds handed out five assists, giving her 401 in her career. She becomes just the third 49ers player in school history to reach the 400-assist plateau and trails all-time leader, Markita Aldridge (1992, ’94-96) by 41 for the program record.
The Mean Green was paced by Briesha Wynn’s double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds in 39 minutes. She also contributed four assists and three steals.
Janis Peterson chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, while Candice Adams poured in 11 points to give North Texas (6-9, 0-2 C-USA) a trio with double-figure points.
Charlotte was leading by as much as 16 early in the second half when Tyler’s layup made it a 40-24 contest at the 16:48 mark. For the next eight minutes, however, it was all Mean Green as they mounted a 25-5 run to reclaim the lead.
Wynn got things started with her team’s first five points, followed by four straight by Peterson. Four-consecutive free throws continued to chop away at the Niners’ cushion, pulling NT within five, 44-39, at the 12:05 mark when Ash’Lynne Evans dropped in a pair. Hannah Christian’s triple at the 10:57 mark cut it to three, starting a run of 10-straight points to close the larger surge. Peterson went to the hoop for a layup at 9:22, putting the Mean Green ahead, 46-45, before Wynn’s trifecta at 8:35 built a four-point edge, 49-45, with 8:35 remaining.
Despite the reversal of momentum, the 49ers never quit and went right back to their leading scorer, Tyler, for the next bucket. Gordon then added a tying jumper with 7:47 left, but North Texas pushed its advantage back to four, 53-49, on an Adams 3-pointer with 5:56 to play. Again, Tyler was the answer on the next Charlotte possession.
The Mean Green pushed its lead up to four one last time, 57-53, on a pair of Acheil Tac free throws, with 3:50 remaining. Gordon then hit the next five points, giving the 49ers the lead for good down the stretch. The sophomore then grabbed a defensive rebound and Tyler converted at the opposite end, pushing the Niners’ margin to three with under a minute to play. Wynn’s layup with 37 seconds to go closed it to one, but being forced to foul put Charlotte at the charity stripe.
Freshman Lefty Webster made 1-of-2 with 21 seconds remaining and North Texas used its final timeout to set up the final situation. Adams broke free towards the hoop for a layup as the clock ticked away; however, her shot hit the underside of the backboard and the 49ers survived with the two-point victory.
Charlotte trailed during much of the opening 10 minutes, as the Mean Green jumped out in front first behind two buckets in the first 50 seconds, including an Adams triple for a 5-0 lead. Despite the early deficit, the 49ers would not let North Texas’ margin to swell any higher, with the last five-point difference coming at 12:30 when Tac hit a jumper for a 14-9 visitor lead.
Two free throws by Tyler and another pair from Sigmon cut the gap to one in the next 1:32. Gordon then grabbed an offensive rebound and converted an old-fashioned three-point play, drawing a foul on the play at 10:39, to give Charlotte its first lead, 16-14.
By the time the 49ers were done scoring, it was a 13-0 run that put them ahead, 22-14, with 8:44 left in the period. The margin grew to double digits for the first time, 28-17, when Tyler knocked down a layup at the 5:41 mark, but the Mean Green sliced it back down to six, 28-22, as the clock hit exactly three minutes.
Gordon and classmate Alexis Alexander netted the only two remaining baskets for either side, pushing Charlotte’s halftime edge to 10, 32-22. It marked the third-straight time in which the 49ers held a lead at the intermission.
The lead continued to grow as the second stanza started, reaching its peak at 16 on Tyler’s conversion, setting up the final stages.
Charlotte will continue Conference USA action when it hits the road for the first time in the league, traveling to the Lone Star State for a pair of matchups next week. The trip begins at 8 p.m. EST Wednesday in San Antonio against UTSA, another league newcomer.
Charlotte Postgame Quotes
Head coach Cara Consuegra
I thought it was a gritty win for our team. Obviously it was a good win, we just weren’t able to catch energy and focus to start and a lot of that is credited to North Texas. They really tricked us with the momentum. We found ways to make plays when we needed to and we found a way to win. We had a couple fast breaks that changed the game for us to help us win. Gabby and Kira both played tremendously. They were incredible with production, rebounds defensively and they really anchored us. It took us a little bit to get the ball in the zone but not every game is going to be easy for us but games that are tough like this helps us to grow. We’re excited that we are 2-0 moving forward in Conference USA.
On post players stepping up when guards weren’t playing as well
Sounds like you were in the timeout with me because we talked about just that. I thought them switching to zone really made us stagnant, which I was disappointed to see because we’ve worked so hard on zone to get better but they (North Texas) put out a 3-2 that we haven’t seen before. We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, I agree. We talked about that and when we made adjustments. We finally slowed down their roll and got back in the game
On different players contributing at different times
We just have to feed off how were playing. One affects the other. We have to be better when were playing and we’ll get there.
Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler
On career-high 22 points
I give credit to my teammates. We are all about energy and they were just feeding me energy, knowing that we weren’t going to quit. We just fed off of one another.
On change of her game from beginning of season to now
Just confidence and us playing as a team. That’s what helps me, as long as we’re playing as a team and winning.
Sophomore Kira Gordon
On playing in the post with Gabby Tyler
Yes, I love playing with Gabby and I feel like we play really well together. I feel, especially in the zone, we know where each other are. I always try to look for her for hi-low and our communication is very good. So I love playing with her.
On thought process down the stretch
I just wanted to win. We were coming back. I know coach Cara tells us to take our time with post-ups so I was making sure I was squared to the basket when it really mattered and tried to focus.