|Niners prep for Saturday showdown with Owls|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte women’s basketball team will look to put Wednesday’s overtime setback behind it when it returns to the hardwood for a 7 p.m. Saturday contest against Rice inside Halton Arena. The game marks the fourth first-time opponent in five contests for the 49ers, all against Conference USA foes.
Charlotte brings a 9-9 overall and 3-2 ledger into the matchup after dropping a heartbreaking 78-76 decision to Tulane which went an extra five minutes. It was the first overtime contest for the Niners since 2011-12, head coach Cara Consuegra’s first season on the sideline.
The 49ers placed five players in double-figure scoring, led by redshirt junior Gabby Tyler’s 15. She also grabbed nine rebounds to share game-best honors with sophomore Kira Gordon, helping the squad edge the Green Wave on the glass.
Tyler averages team highs of 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds this year, while also putting up team bests for field goal percentage (53.4) and blocks (32).
She is one of four 49ers with a double-figure scoring average, leading a pack that also includes senior Ny Hammonds (11.9 ppg), Gordon (11.4) and junior Hillary Sigmon (11.3). Gordon is second to Tyler with 6.6 boards per contest.
Rice owns a 10-8 overall and 3-2 Conference USA ledger into Saturday’s tilt after dropping a 53-47 decision at East Carolina Wednesday. The Owls, led by ninth-year head coach Greg Williams, are off to one of their best starts in the program’s history in the league.
Jessica Kuster, a preseason All-Conference USA selection, averages a double-double of 19.9 points and 14.0 rebounds. She fills the stat sheet in a number of categories and paces her team with minutes played (37.4 per game), field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throws attempted, rebounds, blocked shots, steals and points.
Kuster was tabbed the Jan. 20 C-USA Player of the Week, making her the second-straight league honoree to face Charlotte on a Saturday of her winning week following UTEP’s Kayla Thornton.
The next closest scorer on the squad is Maya Hawkins with an 8.1 average, while Christal Porter is next with 5.9 rebounds per game.
Saturday’s game will serve as the annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day with a free pre-game clinic for girls in Kindergarten through 8th grade, starting at 5:30 p.m. The hour-long clinic must be registered in advance, and can be done here, and will include free admission to the game for all participants.
Saturday’s meeting can be heard live on Charlotte49ers.com with Josh Feldman handling the play-by-play over the video stream provided through the website. Live stats are also linked on the site, while updates can also be found on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.
INSIDE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL