|Hammonds breaks record as Niners fall to Herd|
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Senior Ny Hammonds became the school’s career assists leader but Charlotte never fully recovered from an early deficit in a 71-69 loss to Marshall Saturday afternoon in Conference USA women’s basketball action. The 49ers led once the entire game, as the Thundering Herd picked up the win in the first of two meetings between the league foes this year.
Hammonds needed just one assist to own the record all to herself entering the contest and she attained it at the 11:51 mark of the opening period when Alexis Alexander buried her shot from 14-feet away. Hammonds would go on to finish with a game-high six assists, raising the mark to 448 and surpassing Markita Aldridge (1992, ’94-96).
Prior to the game, Aldridge noted “I absolutely love it. Records give us something to strive for so definitely mean to be broken.”
Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler utilized her point guard’s passing ability to finish with her third double-double of the season and sixth of her career, tallying 17 points and 13 rebounds to pace Charlotte (11-12, 5-5 C-USA) in both categories.
Junior Hillary Sigmon chipped in 14 points, while freshman Lefty Webster added 10 to give the Niners a trio of double-figure scorers. Fellow rookie Ciara Gregory buried three 3-pointers, giving her seven during the two Charlotte games this week, for nine points off the bench.
Leah Scott led all players with 22 points with Chelsey Romero the only other Thundering Herd player in double figures with 10.
Marshall (9-15, 2-9 C-USA) jumped out to a 7-0 lead through the opening three minutes before Tyler finally put points in the 49ers column with a layup at 16:50. It would be the start of a 10-0 Charlotte run, featuring five from Sigmon and a Gregory triple capping the surge with the Niners holding the hosts off the board for 5:11.
The brief 10-7 49ers edge evaporated when Suporia Dickens dropped in a trey of her own and Charlotte would not lead again the remainder of the contest. Despite playing from behind the rest of the game, the Herd was unable to build more than a six-point cushion in the opening period. Romero provided the first half-dozen advantage, 18-12, on a steal and layup with 9:53 to play, but Gregory answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Niners even for the fourth time just over a minute later.
After Marshall extended the difference back to four within the next 58 seconds, Hammonds hit a triple of her own to make it 22-21 at the 7:26 mark. The Thundering Herd countered with a 5-0 run, stretching the lead back to six, 27-21, with 5:33 to go. Charlotte would get within one two more times as the first half neared its end but could never re-take the lead with Marshall entering the intermission up five, 37-32.
Sophomore Kira Gordon got things started for the 49ers to begin the second half with a jumper at 18:56, but consecutive layups from Kiana Evans and Aja Sorrells made it a seven-point deficit, 41-34, with 18:19 left and forcing Charlotte to call a timeout.
The gap never dipped below five for nearly three-and-a-half minutes before AJ Johnson drained a 3-pointer to widen the deficit to eight, 50-42, at 15:28. The 49ers would pull within three at 12:59 on a Webster layup but the Thundering Herd would not allow the visitors to get any closer.
Scott connected on her lone 3-pointer at the 6:35 mark, increasing the margin back to eight, 60-52, and Marshall held at least a six-point cushion, 64-58, through Tyler’s layup exactly two minutes later. After Scott made 1-of-2 free throws for a 65-58 game with 4:12 remaining, Charlotte mounted a 6-0 spurt with Alexander, Hammonds and Sigmon all contributing, slicing the difference to one, 65-64, with 1:21 to play.
Free throws from both sides determined the majority of the remaining points, though Webster swished home a 3-pointer to decide the final outcome with only 0.4 seconds left.
The 49ers return to action when they open a stretch of three of the next four inside Halton Arena at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Florida Atlantic. The trio of home games will mark the final contests to played at home for Charlotte this season.
INSIDE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL