|Niners dominate in exhibition-opening victory|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A close start quickly grew into a dominating performance for the host Charlotte 49ers, as they controlled much of the last 30 minutes to claim an 85-36 victory over cross-town foe Johnson C. Smith in exhibition women's basketball action Saturday evening in Halton Arena.
Amanda Dowe led five Niners in double figures with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Joining her in double-digit scoring was Jennifer Hailey (17 points), Ayanna Holmes (14), Hillary Sigmon (13) and Alexis Alexander (10) in her collegiate debut.
Ny Hammonds finished with 11 assists to only two turnovers. Charlotte also cleaned up on the glass, grabbing a 40-to-21 rebounding edge. The 49ers dropped in 59.3 percent of their field goals, connecting on 35-of-59 for the contest.
Johnson C. Smith was led by Brittany Dorsett, who tallied 17 points on 6-of-15 from the floor. LaKendra Wilkerson hauled in a team-high seven caroms for the Golden Bulls.
Back-to-back jumpers from Jai Forney and Sigmon opened the contest but a Briya Dancer layup kept the Golden Bulls close at 8-7 with 15:49 remaining. The Niners then exploded for a 12-0 run in just over a four-minute span, turning their slim advantage into a 20-7 margin at the 11:26 mark. The dozen straight points were finally stopped by a Dorsett 3-pointer in the corner, pulling the JCSU within 10, 20-10.
Holmes answered with a triple of her own and the Niners were off to a 12-3 spurt, capped by a Sigmon trey and Preseason All-Atlantic 10 First Team selection Hailey layup for a 32-13 lead at 7:28. Following Sigmon's 3-pointer, she drew a charging call at the other end to send the teams into the under-eight timeout.
After the Golden Bulls netted their first points in a couple minutes on a Ny'Jae Dickerson layup, Holmes responded with consecutive fastbreak layups to push the Charlotte edge to 36-15 with 5:29 to play. Hailey then had a pair of layups of her own, sandwiching another from Holmes, as the 49ers grew their advantage to 42-15 at 3:13.
Hailey continued to work on the low block, scoring the next two baskets, to close out a 15-0 run and make it a 47-15 difference with 1:35 left. Dorsett finally halted the streak with a deep 3-pointer at 1:14, from nearly 30 feet, but Dowe's layup with 23 seconds to play sent the teams into the intermission with Charlotte ahead, 49-18.
The 49ers second-half scoring started with Sigmon and Dowe trading 3-pointers and layups, helping swell the margin to 39, 59-20, at the 16:51 mark. Hailey added another layup and Kira Gordon knocked down a jumper to extend the gap to 43, 63-20, just over a minute and a half later.
Johnson C. Smith would then register the next four points, including a pair of Dorsett free throws and a Deanna Downer jumper, to slice the margin back to under 40, 63-24, with 12:36 remaining. Another set of charity tosses from LaTondra Morrow again helped the Golden Bulls to within 37, 65-28, at the 9:12 mark.
From there, the Charlotte offense picked up momentum once again and grew its lead to as high as 47, 79-32, at 3:34 after Alexander and fellow rookie Shequana Harris converted four-straight free throws. The teams traded baskets down the stretch and a pair of Tori Carter buckets closed out the scoring, including a layup with 30 seconds to play to give the 49ers their largest advantage and decide the final outcome.
Ten of the 11 Niners who played posted at least two points, while all 11 players grabbed at least one rebound in an all-around balanced effort.
Charlotte will open its regular season with a 6 p.m. Saturday contest with in-state foe North Carolina Central inside Halton Arena. The game will feature live audio from Josh Feldman on Charlotte49ers.com.
INSIDE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL