|Hammonds sparks Niners to in-state victory|
WILMINGTON, N.C. - Junior Ny Hammonds took control of the scoring load for the Charlotte 49ers women's basketball team, finishing as the only player in double figures with a career-high 21 points, to guide the Niners to a 63-58 victory at UNC Wilmington in Wilmington, N.C.
Hammonds finished with her game-best honors after dropping in 7-of-19 field goals and 7-of-10 free throws to go along with four assists, two rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot in 35 minutes.
Senior Jennifer Hailey fell short of a double-double for the first time this year but still hauled in a game-high tying 13 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive glass, and extended her consecutive games streak with at least one block to 19 by swatting four Seahawk attempts.
Fellow post player Amanda Dowe contributed 10 caroms to lift Charlotte (5-2) to a 45-40 edge on the glass.
Kelva Atkins paced UNCW (1-5) with 20 points, one of three players in double-digit scoring. Karneshia Garrett chipped in a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Tawanna Lee tallied 10 points.
The game went back-and-forth all night with neither holding more than a seven-point edge and featuring nine lead changes. However, it was the 49ers freshmen that helped spark the Charlotte run to claim the victory.
Trailing 35-30 at 17:03 of the second half, the green and white climbed within one on back-to-back buckets from Hammonds and Hailey. Then, after not being able to hit a triple in the first half, rookie Shequana Harris drained a 3-pointer for the Niners' first of the contest at 15:19 to give Charlotte the 37-35 edge.
Harris' trey was the start of a stretch featuring nine of 11 points from freshmen, which also included Kira Gordon and Alexis Alexander adding their names to the scoring column.
A pair of Hillary Sigmon charity tosses at 9:35 pushed the margin to four, 47-43, but UNC Wilmington responded with a 7-0 spurt over the next three minutes, as the 49ers offense went cold to claim a 50-47 advantage on a Lee jumper.
UNCW kept a one-point lead following two Garrett free throws at 5:52 but then senior Jai Forney took over, scoring on back-to-back shots and Sigmon buried a 3-pointer of her own, effectively icing the game, and extending the cushion to 58-52 behind the 7-0 spurt with just 3:24 remaining.
Hammonds stretched the gap to seven on a free throw with 1:08 left but the Seahawks did not quit. Garrett hit a layup and Lee dropped in a corner triple with 53.8 seconds to play, slicing the Niners lead to two, 59-57. Hammonds went in the lane for a tough running floater, once again making it a two-possession difference.
Time remained on Charlotte's side, as it used a pair of free throws from Hammonds down the stretch to preserve the victory, its third in three tries on the road this season.
UNC Wilmington jumped out to an early 7-4 lead thanks to a Jessica Freeman 3-pointer at the 17:10 mark. The Niners battled back to force the game's third tie in the opening seven minutes, a 12-12 deadlock, on two Hammonds free throws at 13:00.
The 49ers then built a four-point edge, 16-12, on a layup from Hailey and a Harris jumper within the next minute. The next seven points fell to the Seahawks, capped by an Atkins jumper. The 7-0 run would eventually turn into an 11-2 surge as the Charlotte offense was unable to connect with the exception of a Dowe 10-foot jumper along the baseline in a stretch covering over 10 minutes.
Hammonds finally ended the lull with 1:56 left, keeping the 49ers within three, 23-20. Charlotte used the bucket as momentum entering the half on a 6-2 run and Hammonds beating the halftime horn with a floater in the lane to make it just a one-point difference, 25-24, at the break.
The Niners return to action when they play host to Stetson at 7 p.m. Saturday inside Halton Arena. The action can be heard live on Charlotte49ers.com with Josh Feldman providing the play-by-play.
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