CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte women's basketball team
picked up victory No. 600 in program history when it captured a school-record
12th in a row this season, handing VCU a 63-54 Senior Night setback
Thursday evening inside Halton Arena. The 49ers, playing in their 38th
campaign, needed 1,060 games to reach the 600th triumph for a 56.6 all-time
The victory was also the 12th straight, surpassing a pair of 11-game runs from Jan. 11, 1979, to Feb. 7, 1979, and from Dec. 8, 1980, to Jan. 21, 1981. Charlotte (23-4, 12-1 A-10), which locked up a first-round bye at the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament following Sunday's triumph at La Salle, accomplished Thursday's win with conference player of the year candidate, senior Jennifer Hailey, having her double-double streak snapped at a dozen.
Hailey finished with eight points and eight rebounds, playing just 23 minutes due to foul trouble. She often faced four defenders around her in the low block but still came away with a career-high tying four steals. She also added a pair of blocked shots, tying her own single-season school record set a year ago with 73, which also extended her consecutive games streak with at least one rejection to 39.
To make up for her scoring absence, the Niners turned to a trio of starters to register double-figure points. Junior Ny Hammonds and sophomore Hillary Sigmon shared team-high honors with 14, while senior Jai Forney chipped in 14 in her final home contest.
The program's other senior, Amanda Dowe, led the battle on the glass with 15 rebounds, helping the 49ers to a 43-to-27 edge on the boards. She nearly had a double-double, pouring in nine points.
Charlotte's dominance in the rebounding column was helped by the fact that all eight players who saw action grabbed at least two boards. It is the first time this season and third overall under head coach Cara Consuegra the Niners have accomplished that feat.
VCU was guided by Robyn Parks' 25 points, including 11-of-13 at the foul line and 16 in the second half. Also coming alive in the second 20 minutes for the Rams was Jessica Pellechio, who netted 16 of her 18 points during the second stanza and connected on four of the team's five 3-pointers.
The first half was a nip-and-tuck affair early until an 8-2 spurt, capped by a Hammonds triple at 13:29, pushed the 49ers' advantage to 12-6. A pair of Parks jumpers sandwiched another Hammonds trey, keeping VCU (10-18, 3-10 A-10) within five, 15-10, at the 11:23 mark.
Neither team would score for the next 4:36 when a Kaneisha Atwater jumper broke the drought and trimmed the deficit to three, 15-12. The two squads combined for seven turnovers and nine missed opportunities during the stretch.
It would be over a minute again before the nets were warmed up, but following a Parks jumper at the 3:25 mark to cut the gap to four, 20-16, it would be all Charlotte to end the period. The home-standing 49ers closed the half on a 15-1 spurt, including three free throws by Sigmon with 43 seconds left after she was fouled behind the arc just seconds after burying a long-range bomb.
Sigmon would go on to score eight-straight points for the Niners down the stretch. Charlotte had one last chance following a Carleeda Green miss with four seconds to play. Sigmon inbounded the ball to Forney at the midcourt stripe. She then turned and launched a 40-footer towards the basket. Her heave banked off the glass and through the hoop, sending the Halton Arena crowd into a frenzy and providing her team with a 35-17 halftime cushion.
The Rams did not let the final first-half blow haunt them, as Pellechio came out of the break by draining a 3-pointer on the first possession just nine seconds into the frame. A turn-around jumper in the lane by freshman Alexis Alexander kept Charlotte on top by 19, 43-24, with 16:23 to play.
From there, however, the Niners offense would go cold. Parks recorded six points in an 11-0 VCU run that covered nearly three minutes, slicing the margin to single digits, 43-35, at 13:33. The 49ers responded with a 10-0 spurt during the next 4:10, including a Sigmon triple and old-fashioned three-point play from Dowe at 10:13.
Again, the Rams went on the offensive. They would once again trim the deficit to eight on a Green 3-pointer with 5:38 left despite Charlotte calling a 30-second timeout just prior to set up a defensive scheme. It was the final points of an 11-1 stretch.
VCU continued to battle hard, using a pair of Pellechio treys to cut the gap to seven, 59-52, with exactly two minutes to play. A Sigmon 3-pointer between the two padded the Niners cushion enough to not be threatened as the Rams would only take four more attempts from the floor in the last 2:00.
Charlotte will close its regular season with a trip to Richmond to face the Spiders at 2 p.m. Sunday. The 49ers and Spiders will meet for the 11th time with the Niners earning a win in each of the last nine contests.
The game can be heard live on Charlotte49ers.com with Josh Feldman handling the play-by-play duties.
Charlotte Postgame Quotes vs. VCU (2.28.13)
Head coach Cara Consuegra
I'm really happy for our team. We won our 12th straight game today, which is a school record. We knew it was going to be a battle, and certainly at this point of the year, not everybody knows what we're capable of and VCU had a really great game plan. Obviously they took Jenn completely out of the game, and that's a credit to Jenn and the type of season that she's had. She has been unbelievably tremendous and I thought that their entire game plan centered on taking Jenn out of the paint, limiting her touches and Amanda's touches. And I was proud of the rest of the team for stepping up and making some really great plays when we needed to make them. I thought defensively in the first half we were tremendous. We played everything that they played correctly. We had almost 20 deflections, forced them into 12 turnovers and in the second half, we lost our intensity defensively. We didn't have quite as many deflections. Obviously we let Robyn Parks get two easy touches and we were in foul trouble. We had two freshmen trying to guard one of the best players in the league. So that just makes it difficult. After the game, I told my team we're not always going to be perfect, not every game is going to be easy, but great teams find a way to win and great teams find a way to win down the stretch. We had a jump ball down the stretch that gave us an extra possession, which was huge. We told them during the timeout that the possession arrow was ours. They listened, pumped it up and we got a possession. Jai came off the bench, drove and scored. Jenn, obviously struggled and didn't get a lot of touches, scored that layup that we needed. Great teams find ways to win and I thought we did that tonight. So I'm proud of our 12th straight win and I'm certainly proud to send our three seniors out on a win.
VCU creating turnovers
Well, they did a good job on their trapping, which we knew was coming every time and our team just did not execute our game plan. When the trap came, we were supposed to have our high post flash and have the short corner step up. We rarely did that, and when we did, we missed it. We just tried to throw it back to Ny and say Ny it's yours. Well, we can't do that all the time. So we prepped for it for two days; we just didn't follow that game plan and that's also a credit to VCU. They did a good job and that's also what they do.
letting the 18-point lead slip in the second half
I think it was a combination of lack of patience and VCU. I think defensively we really lost our intensity in the second half. I thought we made it too easy for Robyn Parks to catch, she was really hurting us. 23 (Jessica Pellechio) comes in and scores, I think, 2 or 4 points in the first half; 14 or 16 on us in the second half. They have two go-to players, which we limited pretty well in the first half. We just didn't do a good job of it during the second half for whatever reason. And again, we're trying to battle through 20 minutes without Jenn and Amanda. We haven't done that all year and that makes a difference. We did enough to win. I thought offensively we went in spurts throughout the game. Throughout the game we looked really good and we had some dry spurts, but we made a lot of shots at the end to win.
dominating points in the paint, 30-to-10
Well, I don't know if it was all just the post. VCU was not playing us on the perimeter. And we started the game launching threes, which is not our strength. We just talked about if they're not going to play us then we have to drive at them. We've got to get the ball either to our post in the paint or with the drive and pass. I thought later in the first half and definitely the second half we did a better job of attacking them. When the ball got skipped, we're closing out hard and we're trying to attack to get to the paint. That's a credit to our players for listening to the adjustment at halftime and executing that.
Our seniors have been absolutely fabulous the whole year. We're a great team. We have a lot of weapons together and we're very unselfish. We play for each other, which makes us very good. But our three seniors: Jenn, Amanda and Jai, have an internal drive right now that is just amazing and a will to win that has rubbed off on this team. And you can see that in them even when they weren't play great. It brought everybody to another level. Jenn Hailey has really led that with her energy and the way she gives to this team is incredible and this is her first game in A-10 play not having a double-double, which is tough when you have four people hanging on you. She has elevated the play of everybody else and that has been spectacular to see. I'm just proud of them and really happy for them.
preparing for a new conference opponent every week
Our prep is so tough. Every time it's a brand new team. Every time it's a new game plan. We spend countless hours preparing our team.
VCU being a new member of the A-10
We've never seen them before. We don't know anything about them. We don't know the calls because they're really young and new. And obviously that's on our staff to prepare our team the best that we can. We did a really good job. When you watch the game every time they called a play, our team was calling it out. We knew almost everything of what they we going to run from our scouting. Not that we always executed it, but that's why you play a game. We're proud of our 12-game win streak, but at the same time it hasn't been easy. We've earned it. We haven't blown people out, we haven't been completely dominant for two halves, but we have great kids. We work hard. We love each other. And we play to win. And that's why we've been able to do what we've done.
practicing half court shots
We do it every shootaround. We finish on half-court shots for exactly that reason. Jai Forney is probably our best. However, she was shooting on the side that she dislikes I think. She usually likes to shoot on the other side. But she is probably one of our best. Jai, Ayanna (Holmes) and Ny are probably our three best. Like I said, that's why we do it in shootaround. Not just for fun, but you never know when you're going to get that shot.
Sophomore guard Hillary Sigmon
own personal eight-point stretch late in the first half
With Jenn and Amanda out with foul trouble, we had to come together and step up, so we could have a comfortable lead going into halftime. My teammates had confidence in me and I had confidence in myself, and I just took over at that point.
the turnovers in the beginning of the second half
We had a flow going in there and we lost it with turning the ball over. We just have to have faith in each other and keep it going when we're facing turnovers and not hitting shots. We just have to be with each other and keep it going.
school record win streak
It means everything to me, especially for our seniors. I'm just happy for them. To be a part of the team is just awesome.
physical play in the paint
I prefer the perimeter but if I have to get in there, I'll do it.