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Niners look to tame Panthers in midweek game

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte women’s basketball returns home for its final two regular-season games inside Halton Arena this week, starting with a 7 p.m. Wednesday tip against FIU. The 49ers are looking to finish strong on their home floor where they are 8-4 this season.

Charlotte enters Wednesday’s contest with a 12-13 overall and 6-6 Conference USA ledger. The Niners nearly toppled league front-runner Middle Tennessee Saturday, dropping a narrow 48-46 decision to the preseason conference favorites and holding the Blue Raiders to their lowest scoring output in over a year.

Senior Ny Hammonds was the lone 49ers player to reach double-figure scoring, pouring in 12 to inch past her season average of 11.9 points per game. Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler also averages 11.9 ppg to co-head the Charlotte leading scoring punch.

Sophomore Kira Gordon and junior Hillary Sigmon also average double-figure points with 10.7 and 10.1, respectively.

On the glass, where Charlotte has a plus-3.4 per game margin over its opponents, Tyler has hauled in a team-best 7.6 each time out. Gordon is next with 6.7 per contest, followed by sophomore Alexis Alexander’s 5.7 mark.

Following a similar path record-wise is FIU, who is 12-14 overall and 6-7 in Conference USA this season. The Panthers have won just once in their last five outings, picking up a 77-66 victory over Marshall Saturday. Prior to that, FIU faced four of the top teams in the conference – UTEP, Middle Tennessee, Tulane and Southern Miss – in order.

Senior Jerica Coley, the preseason Conference USA Player of the Year and 2013 All-American, continues her torrid scoring rate with a 29.6 points per game average, ranking second nationally. She does everything for head coach Cindy Russo’s squad and has taken 39.6 percent of the team’s shots on the season.

Not only does she pace the Panthers and the league with her scoring mark, she also sets the tone for FIU with 108 assists, 34 blocks and 46 steals, while ranking second among her teammates with a 6.8 rebounding average.

Tynia McKinzie edges out Coley as the top rebounder with her 7.1 boards per contest. Taylor Shade is next behind Coley when it comes to scoring, tallying 9.2 points per game.

The two teams have met only once previously and the Panthers held off the 49ers for a 71-58 victory in Miami Dec. 16, 2002. The matchup came during Charlotte’s run to its first NCAA Tournament berth and Conference USA regular-season title-winning bid that season.

Live video of Wednesday’s game can be viewed on with audio provided by Josh Feldman. Live stats are linked through the website, while updates can also be found on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.

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