CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Senior Ny Hammonds turned in the second triple-double in Charlotte women’s basketball history, and just the seventh in the all-time Conference USA record books, to guide the 49ers to a 79-68 triumph over FIU Wednesday night. Her record-breaking performance came on a night in which she was honored pregame for recently becoming the school’s career assists leader.
Hammonds finished with a career-high 14 assists, career-best 11 rebounds and 10 points to join the elite club. She puts her name next to Patricia Walker’s in Charlotte (13-13, 7-6 C-USA) history. Walker had the only other triple-double for the Niners with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists against Campbell Feb. 5, 1982.
Hammonds’ 14 assists are the fifth highest in school history for a single game and are the most since Maria Byars handed out 15 against Western Carolina Jan. 13, 1983. Hammonds also blocked two shots, establishing yet another career high, as she entered the contest with a rejection in 10 career games.
She was one of five 49ers to tally double-digit points with freshman Lefty Webster leading the pack with 17, one short of her career best set last Wednesday against Florida Atlantic. Webster was 7-of-8 from the floor, helping Charlotte to connect on 35-of-66 field goals for 53.0 percent, its third performance this season of converting at least 50.0 percent on field goals and second in the last three games.
Junior Hillary Sigmon chipped in 15 points, featuring three first-half 3-pointers, while redshirt junior Gabby Tyler posted 14 and sophomore Kira Gordon recorded 11 to round out the balanced attack.
All-American candidate Jerica Coley, who entered the matchup tied for first nationally with 29.6 points per game, paced the Panthers with 30, though she managed to hit just 14-of-29 attempts and missed all three of her shots from behind the 3-point arc. Tynia McKinzie provided FIU (12-15, 6-8 C-USA) with another double-figure scorer, pouring in 18 in addition to matching Zsofia Labady’s eight rebounds.
After a first half in which both teams hit 15-of-32 field goals, with five triples giving the 49ers a five-point edge, Charlotte pulled away after the intermission thanks to knocking down 58.8 percent of its attempts to just a 43.2 percent showing by the visitors.
The five-point halftime cushion quickly grew to seven, as the Niners went straight to Tyler for the second period’s opening bucket. A quick 6-0 run for the Panthers sliced the deficit to one in just over a minute, but junior Ayanna Holmes halted the surge to keep the 49ers ahead, 41-38, with 17:49 remaining. Each team netted baskets during the next two minutes before Gordon’s third old-fashioned three-point play of the contest, after she had two in the first frame, extended Charlotte’s lead to four, 46-42.
Gordon’s and-one situation started a 7-0 Niners stretch, covering over three minutes, to extend their advantage to as high as eight, 50-42, with 13:07 remaining. The margin never dipped below six the rest of the game with Charlotte jumping out in front to a double-digit difference, 58-48, for the first time on an Alexis Alexander layup following a Tyler steal at the 8:47 mark.
Sigmon buried a jumper with 7:43 to go, keeping the edge at 10, 62-52, and the 49ers never allowed it to drop into single digits again. Following a Coley jumper at the 5:21 mark to pull the Panthers within 10, 66-56, Charlotte mounted a 6-0 run, all on layups, widening the difference to 16, 72-56, just 1:04 later. Coley kept fighting, helping her team trim the deficit to a dozen, but a layup and then an old-fashioned three-point play from Webster with 2:44 remaining extended the 49ers’ cushion to a game-high 17, 79-62.
Coley added two more jumpers and Kamika Idom finished the scoring with just over 14 seconds to play, deciding the final margin of 11.
The first half had featured eight ties and five lead changes as neither team was able to pull away. Gordon’s first of three old-fashioned play situations gave Charlotte its first points and Sigmon’s initial triple at the 17:14 mark knotted the score at 6-6.
FIU then grew its edge to four, 10-6, in a near three-minute span, but Gordon’s next old-fashioned three-point play with 13:36 on the clock capped a 5-0 Niners run to re-take the lead, 11-10. Sigmon answered a three-point stretch by the Panthers with another trey, causing a 14-14 tie at 11:14. Neither team built more than a three-point difference until Sigmon’s next triple at the 6:17 mark pushed Charlotte ahead, 26-21.
Idom answered with a 3-pointer of her own on the next FIU possession and the visitors were able to claw back to force a 30-30 deadlock at 3:35. The 49ers then outscored the Panthers 7-2 down the stretch and nearly added one more basket, but Gordon’s layup at the buzzer rimmed out and Charlotte entered the intermission up 37-32.
The 49ers will return to action at 7 p.m. Saturday when they close the home regular-season slate against Marshall. Charlotte will honor its senior class, including Hammonds, after the conclusion of the game. Fans are encouraged to stick around and show their support for this year’s group of seniors.
Charlotte 49ers Postgame Quotes
Head coach Cara Consuegra
I thought that was just a tremendous team win for us. You really have to talk about Ny. She really led the way for us in terms of setting the pace, creating for people and getting the second triple-double in the history of our program is just incredible and fun to see her do that on a night that we were honoring her anyway. She (Ny) was our captain out there and I thought in the second half we really started to blow it open and get our lead when Ny decided to change the pace. She started to go in transition, Lefty started to go to the wings; put Liv (Olivia Rankin) in there, you put Lexi (Alexis Alexander) in there and they get run out in transition and that just changed the game for us.
FIU is a dangerous team. Jerica Coley is one of the best offensive players, if not the best offensive player, I’ve seen and I thought Lefty did a really good job on her. You have to try to slow her down. She (Jerica) was going to get her points but I felt like Lefty made it very difficult but it was a team effort. You had certain people who were guarding her but we were really good in the game plan.
This is two games in a row where I thought we did well defensively in the game plan. We showed help and didn’t give a lot of easy, open lanes. We made things difficult and you just have to take care of everybody else around her (Coley) and I thought for the most part we did that. We feel a lot of urgency to win these last few games and I thought in the second half of this game particularly, that you saw that in us. They wore down and we got tougher. That’s what we’re going to have to do for three more games, we have to be the tougher team, we have to stay focused and focus on who we are all the time.
FIU slows down the pace and they wanted to be slow, and for a minute in that game, that’s what we looked like. When Ny decided to change it to another gear, Lefty changed it to another gear, we took off and looked like the Charlotte team that we should be, so we’ll take it. First of our four that we are trying to go after right here and move forward and try to duplicate this again on Saturday but just a great effort from our group as a whole. I’m really proud of them.
On talking to Ny about urgency in last two home games
Honestly, that’s something that she just knows all the time. There’s no particular thing special thing said to her. I think the thing about Ny right now is that I feel more of a urgency coming off of her than I’ve felt all year. I think she’s realizing her career is winding down and she’s starting to feel that. I thought she played with just a tremendous focus, a tremendous urgency. She wants to finish her career on the right note and obviously I know stats are important and the records she has broken but she wants to win and you can feel that from her right now. That’s been a huge difference in our team this week.
On importance of final games down the stretch
That’s what we’ve been talking about is just having that urgency as a whole and when your senior leader is doing that, it makes it a lot easier on everybody else to do it and it’s great to hear Ny say that it’s a great responsibility to have because she’s absolutely right. And when you have a senior that embraces that and realizes that it matters everyday what you do and what you don’t do, that’s huge. And I’m excited for her and it will end on a good note for her.
Senior Ny Hammonds
On knowledge of triple-double tonight
Yes, I was actually trying to get it. That was one of the goals that I set at the beginning of the year when coach gave us a goal sheet and I put that I wanted to get a triple-double. I’m excited.
On having an overall well-rounded game
I’m excited and my teammates made me even more happy because they support me and are happy for me as well.
On being a leader for this team
I think it’s become a responsibility now because last year was more pressure for me and I had low confidence but now I’m starting to understand that it’s my responsibility.
Freshman Lefty Webster
On preparing for a player like Jerica Coley
I was just trying to keep her in front of us. When she jumped up, I tried to test her without fouling. She wasn’t too quick or anything to make us do anything differently, we just had to test her strength.
On lessons learned from Ny on the court
I don’t mind that she doesn’t talk as much; I like that actually. I like reserved players so I look up to her in that way because I can tell that she leads by her actions. She really doesn’t have to talk. I just follow her when I see what she’s doing.
On Ny off the court
She’s funny when she does talk. She’s still quiet but she’s more vocal.