|Loaded non-conference slate preps 49ers for C-USA|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte women’s basketball program will seek to play in its 12th-straight postseason in 2013-14 with a stacked non-conference schedule, as announced Friday by head coach Cara Consuegra. Eight guaranteed postseason games with potential for another, including three NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, highlight the slate.
“We’re really excited,” Consuegra said. “Once again, I think we’ve done a really good job of creating a schedule that is extremely competitive and will prepare us for our 12th-straight postseason run. There are three NCAA Tournament teams, including two to be played at home inside Halton Arena. It’s extremely competitive and will definitely prepare us for what lies ahead in Conference USA.”
Six of the 13 contests, which feature zero first-time opponents, on the docket will be played inside Halton Arena, where the 49ers posted a 14-4 record last year. The 14 victories set a single-season program record and included a pair of triumphs on the path to the WNIT Sweet 16. In Consuegra’s two years in charge of the program, the Niners are 24-8 when playing on their home floor.
Charlotte will open the campaign by playing host to Liberty Friday, November 8. It marks the fourth-straight season in which the 49ers begin the year at home, the longest streak in school history. The Flames finished 2012-13 with a 27-7 record, a Big South championship and NCAA Tournament berth. The two programs have met just once previously, when Charlotte picked up a WNIT First Round triumph in 2011.
The Niners then hit the road for three-straight contests, all against WNIT foes from last season. The stretch begins Nov. 10 in Manhattan, Kan., against Kansas State of the Big 12. The Wildcats reached the WNIT Semifinals last year and narrowly escaped with a 67-63 win against Charlotte inside Halton Arena in the first meeting in the series.
Three days later, Nov. 13, the 49ers are back on the road at Big 10 opponent Minnesota, marking the third overall matchup with the Golden Gophers. Minnesota won 13 of its 18 victories at home a season ago before participating in the WNIT.
Concluding the road swing will be a Nov. 20 tilt against FGCU in Ft. Myers, Fla. The two teams met for the first time this past season with the Niners earning a 79-60 home triumph. Graduated senior Jennifer Hailey, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, reached the 1,000-point milestone against the Eagles.
Charlotte returns home for two more games before the Thanksgiving holiday. The 49ers will play host to UCF Nov. 23 and then local foe Winthrop Nov. 26. Charlotte topped the Golden Knights 62-59 in a hard-fought battle last year. UCF reached the Conference USA Tournament final but will be leaving the league for the newly-formed American Athletic Conference in 2013-14.
The 49ers have not played Winthrop since 2007-08 despite the proximity. That contest extended Charlotte’s win streak against the Eagles to 15. Winthrop also played in the WNIT in 2012-13 with a 21-12 ledger, and as a whole, the program set 36 new school individual or team records and milestones along the way.
Despite the holiday, the 49ers will not have much of a break as they return to the road for the Lady Rebel Round-Up in Las Vegas, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. It marks Charlotte’s first trip to Las Vegas since the 2000-01 campaign.
In the tournament, the Niners open with a former Conference USA rival, Cincinnati Nov. 30, whom they have not faced since the 2005 C-USA Tournament. The Bearcats will be joining UCF in the American Athletic after a split from the old Big East. Cincinnati won three of its last four regular-season games in the Big East under fourth-year head coach Jamelle Elliott, a former Connecticut player and assistant coach.
The second game of the tournament will pit Charlotte against either host UNLV or former Atlantic 10 foe Fordham. The 49ers and Runnin’ Rebels have met once previously, when the Niners competed in the championship of what was then called the UNLV Rebel Shootout.
The Niners and Rams opened the Atlantic 10 slate last year during a national TV broadcast on CBS Sports Network. Fordham concluded the season by reaching the A-10 Tournament title and advancing to the WNIT.
Charlotte returns to Halton Arena and will play host to South Carolina Dec. 8 in the first SEC home game since the Gamecocks came to town Nov. 16, 2009. USC finished 2012-13 with a 25-8 record, reaching the NCAA Tournament Second Round and earning a national ranking of No. 17/14 to conclude the campaign.
A second-straight game against an NCAA Tournament opponent is next, as the 49ers return to the Sunshine State for a Dec. 17 battle with Stetson in DeLand, Fla. The two teams met last year with the Niners garnering an 81-73 triumph inside Halton Arena. It will also mark the return to Stetson for newly-hired Charlotte assistant coach Nicole Woods, who was on the Hatters’ staff the last two seasons.
The final away contest of the slate will be against cross-county foe Davidson Dec. 21. The Niners swept the two meetings a year ago, including a WNIT Second Round battle. The Wildcats were the Southern Conference runner-up but will enter this year without the services of two-time league player of the year Sophia Aleksandravicius, who graduated in May.
Another SoCon matchup is next, as the 49ers play host to Furman Dec. 29. Charlotte holds a slight, 6-5, edge in the all-time series after picking up an 89-53 win in the last meeting during the 2011-12 season. The Paladins, who feature the SoCon Freshman of the Year in Holli Wilkins, recently completed their third year under head coach Jackie Carson who led them to a seventh-place league finish.
The non-conference docket concludes as the calendar flips to 2014 with the Niners facing UNC Wilmington at home, Jan. 3. It marks the fourth-straight season in which the two teams will meet and Charlotte picked up a 63-58 road victory last year, highlighted by a career-high 21 points from All-Atlantic 10 Third Team selection Ny Hammonds.
The Niners will feature eight letterwinners returning, including two starters, from the second-most successful campaign in program history. Charlotte posted a 26-6 mark and reached the WNIT Sweet 16 for the second time in the last three years. Joining Hammonds as a returning starter will be junior Hillary Sigmon, a 2011 All-Atlantic 10 Rookie Team honoree.
The Conference USA portion of the schedule will be announced at a later date, as will times for all contests. Ticket information can be obtained by calling the 49ers ticket office at (704) 687-4949. Stay tuned to Charlotte49ers.com for further summer updates on the Charlotte women’s basketball program.
2013-14 Charlotte women’s basketball non-conference schedule
Nov. 2 — Johnson C. Smith (exh.)
Nov. 8 — Liberty
Nov. 10 — at Kansas State
Nov. 13 — at Minnesota
Nov. 20 — at FGCU
Nov. 23 — UCF
Nov. 26 — Winthrop
Nov. 30 — vs. Cincinnati^
Dec. 1 — at UNLV/vs. Fordham^
Dec. 8 — South Carolina
Dec. 17 — at Stetson
Dec. 21 — at Davidson
Dec. 29 — Furman
Jan. 3 — UNC Wilmington
^ — Lady Rebel Round-Up (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Home games in bold played inside Halton Arena
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