BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Charlotte made 19-of-21 free throws for the game, including eight of its last nine, to lockdown a 64-60 victory over UAB in the women’s basketball regular-season finale inside Bartow Arena Friday. The charity tosses helped the 49ers clinch the No. 6 seed in the upcoming Conference USA Championships, next week in El Paso, Texas.
Leading the way for Charlotte (15-14, 9-7 C-USA) was redshirt junior Gabby Tyler, who posted her fourth double-double of the season and seventh of her career with 12 points and 11 rebounds. She was one of four players to net double-figure scoring for the Niners, led by 13 from freshman Lefty Webster who’s 6-of-6 at the foul line also topped all scorers.
Sophomore Alexis Alexander posted 12 points, while classmate Kira Gordon added 10 in addition to her eight boards. Overall, Charlotte owned a 44-to-33 edge on the glass.
Karisma Chapman paced the Blazers with 26 points, while Brittany Winborne chipped in a double-double of 17 points and game-high 14 rebounds. Chelsee Black registered 11 points for the home side.
Gordon started things for the Niners, tallying their first four points for a 4-2 edge and to help provide a lead they would not surrender the rest of the period. The advantage eventually grew to as high as eight, 12-4, by the 14:39 mark when Webster netted the 49ers’ third-and-fourth straight points at the charity stripe.
UAB (15-14, 7-9 C-USA) answered with a 6-0 spurt, following back-to-back buckets from Chapman and a jumper by Black at 11:43 to trim the deficit to two, 12-10. Charlotte maintained no higher than four-point edge the next six minutes before Tyler’s layup with 5:35 to play built the difference back to six, 22-16.
The 49ers then weathered the Blazers slicing the gap to two when Alexander halted the spurt and Ayanna Holmes added a layup to increase Charlotte’s lead back to a half dozen, 28-22, with just over two minutes remaining. However, that would be the last time the Niners would score in the period, as Chapman’s layup and a 3-pointer from Black at 1:09 made it a one-point contest at the intermission, 28-27, in the 49ers’ favor.
UAB seemingly was in control to start the second period, recording the first four points to claim a 31-28 edge; however, the Niners did not waver and battled back to score the next six, with the first four coming at the foul line, to move ahead, 34-31, at 17:26.
The back-and-forth see-saw affair turned back to the Blazers for the next six points, capped by a Winborne layup at the 14:57 mark, as they jumped ahead to a 37-34 advantage. The teams continued to trade runs as the game would be tied four times over the next six-and-a-half minutes.
With 8:02 left, Alexander’s jumper put Charlotte on top, 47-45, and it never looked back. It was the start of a 6-0 stretch with the 49ers seizing control. UAB closed within two, 56-54, by the 2:12 mark on two free throws from Winborne, but a Gordon layup and Tyler two free throws increased the margin back to a half dozen, 60-54, just under a minute later.
Two layups again sliced the Niners’ advantage to a pair, 60-58, before the Blazers were forced to foul. Holmes hit the initial Charlotte set at the line before she was charged with a foul on a 3-point attempt from Black. Luckily for the 49ers, Black made just two of the three at the charity stripe, and following a series of turnovers by both teams, Gordon’s two free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining capped the win.
Charlotte will now turn its attention to the Conference USA Championships, which begin Tuesday in El Paso, Texas. The 49ers have earned an opening-round bye and will face the winner of No. 11 North Texas and No. 14 Louisiana Tech in their first contest, at 7 p.m. EST Wednesday, at UTEP’s Memorial Gym.