|Niners pull out road victory against Bonnies|
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. - Charlotte grinded out a hard-fought win Wednesday night in typical road Atlantic 10 action and a usual battle in the series, handing St. Bonaventure a 64-57 defeat at the Reilly Center in St. Bonaventure, N.Y. The triumph improved the 49ers' road record to 7-0 this season, including 3-0 in conference games.
Senior Jennifer Hailey, the reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, led Charlotte with a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds, including 18 points in the second half. She also extended her consecutive games streak with at least one blocked shot to 31.
Hillary Sigmon contributed 13 points, while Ny Hammonds poured in a dozen to give the visitors a trio in double-figure scoring.
Nyla Rueter paced the Bonnies with 15 points, while Katie Healy and Doris Ortega each recorded 14.
The Niners jumped out in front early thanks to its up-tempo offense, exploiting the Bonnies lack of getting back on defense. Sigmon connected on an old-fashioned three-point play at 18:47 before Amanda Dowe added a layup and Hailey knocked in a free throw for an 8-2 cushion at 16:21 before SBU responded with the next four points.
Hailey battled hard for the next 49ers basket at 13:59, increasing the lead back to four, 10-6. Following a pair of Ortega free throws, the advantage remained two possessions after Kira Gordon got her own rebound and put in a tough five-footer for a 12-8 lead with 11:48 remaining.
The two teams then would trade baskets as Hammonds split the defense for a layup through the middle and Alaina Walker hit a buzzer beater in the lane. Three free throws and a Hammonds jumper extended the Charlotte (15-4, 4-1 A-10) lead to nine, 19-10, by the 7:39 mark and the under-eight media timeout. Sigmon drained a 3-pointer at 6:51 and Alexander and Gordon each chipped in a jumper, giving the 49ers their first double-digit, 26-16, edge.
The Bonnies attempted to slice into the deficit pulling within six, 29-23, on a 5-0 run to the 1:25 mark, which featured three charity tosses and a layup from Rueter. Hammonds finally ended the Niners lull with a jumper with just under a minute to play but Healy knocked down a triple on the next St. Bonaventure (9-12, 2-4 A-10) possession to provide a 31-26 Charlotte halftime lead.
The second half opened with the two teams trading baskets back and forth. Following a SBU miss, the Bonnies intercepted a 49ers clearing pass and turned it into a 3-pointer from Emily Michael to pull within two, 35-33, and forcing the Niners to call a timeout at 17:09.
Following the short break, Charlotte went straight to the low block and found Hailey for another layup. Michael's earlier triple warmed the nets from long distance for St. Bonaventure, as Rueter followed with one of her own. Just when the momentum seemed to shift, Sigmon buried a 3-pointer of her own from the corner right in front of the 49ers bench to silence the crowd.
The noise grew once again when Ashley Zahn dropped in a trey at 13:53 but it only came after Hailey had tallied five straight for the Niners. Zahn's points, however, would be the last from the field for the Bonnies for over seven minutes as the Charlotte defense stepped to the plate.
Using the defense to catapult the offense into a scoring run, the 49ers rattled off nine additional points, growing its lead back to double digits, 56-44, entering the final six minutes. SBU was able to get its offense back in gear, recording a half dozen in a row to pull within four, 56-52, and causing Rowe to foul out with 3:48 to play.
Without a starter on the floor after the final media timeout, Charlotte used an old-fashioned three-point play from Hailey and a dagger 3-pointer from the right wing by Sigmon to push it to 62-53 at the 1:19 mark.
Healy scored two final field goals for the Bonnies but the 49ers secured rebounds when they needed to and hit two final free throws to clinch the victory and hold an opponent under 60 points for a school-record eighth-straight game.
Charlotte returns to action at 2 p.m. Sunday when it plays host to Duquesne inside Halton Arena. The contest can be heard regionally on ESPN 730 AM with Bobby Rosinski and Lanny Ford handling the radio broadcast.