INSIDE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
|Charlotte turns pink for Play 4Kay game Sunday|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte 49ers women's basketball team will play host to George Washington at 2 p.m. Sunday in the annual Play 4Kay game inside Halton Arena to raise awareness for breast cancer research in conjunction with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's (WBCA) initiative and charity of choice, the Kay Yow Fund. Fans attending the game are encouraged to turn in their green and white for the game to wear pink. The first 500 spectators through the gates will receive a commemorative pink t-shirt in support of the cause.
In addition to the fan support in pink, the Niners basketball players will take the issue to heart by donning pink shoelaces and socks, and use pink pre-wrap as hairbands. The Charlotte coaching staff will splash pink throughout their normal game day attire and also wear pink tennis shoes.
The 49ers bring an eight-game win streak, the season's longest, into the Atlantic 10 matchup. Charlotte owns a 19-4 overall record and 8-1 mark in the conference, currently standing in second place, one game behind Dayton.
The most recent victory came Wednesday night, as the Niners had to come-from-behind for the second-straight time to pull out a 59-49 triumph over the Bulldogs of Butler. The 49ers tallied the last 12 points to outscore the Bulldogs down the stretch and record their 10th home victory of the campaign, extending the streak of double-digit home wins to 11-straight years.
Senior Jennifer Hailey once again was among the team's game leaders but her most notable accomplishments in the contest were in the school's history books. She grabbed 12 rebounds to reach the 1,000 milestone exactly, becoming the fourth women's player and seventh overall in school history to reach the plateau.
She also set the new program standard for career blocked shots, upping the mark to 212 with her five deflections. She has at least one blocked shot in 35-straight games.
Hailey currently paces the 49ers with 15.5 points and 12.0 rebounds per game, ranking among the A-10 leaders in both categories.
Also with a standout performance Wednesday was classmate Amanda Dowe, who turned in a 13-point, 14-rebound effort. Twelve of her 14 caroms came on the offensive glass, as Charlotte dominated the boards with 26 offensive rebounds against the Bulldogs.
The pair is the only set of teammates to rank among 37 players nationally averaging a double-double entering the weekend. Dowe currently contributes 10.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per outing.
George Washington owns an 11-13 overall and 5-5 league ledger heading into Sunday. The Colonials, a charter member of the Atlantic 10, dropped a 66-56 decision at Fordham Wednesday, snapping their three-game win streak under first-year head coach Jonathan Tsipis.
While no players average double-figure scoring, a balanced attack is led by Tara Booker's 9.8 points per game. She is just ahead of Megan Nipe (9.5 ppg) and the 9.4 averages of Danni Jackson and Shi-Heria Shipp.
Booker is also the top rebounder with 6.8 per contest, just ahead of the 6.5 average from Sara Mostafa.
The 49ers lead the all-time series, 4-3, after winning each of the last four meetings. Charlotte pulled out a 61-60 victory in last season's contest in Washington, D.C., as Hailey finished with a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds to counter Booker's double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The late Kay Yow, the Fund's namesake and former North Carolina State head women's basketball coach, was past president and founding member of the WBCA and a galvanizing voice for the Association. Yow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, and passed away on January 24, 2009, after facing her third bout with the disease.
Starting in 2012, the WBCA Pink Zone was rebranded as Play 4Kay. The mission of the initiative, which was brought to life in 2007, will remain intact: a nation of coaches raising breast cancer awareness on the court, across campuses, in communities and beyond.
Since the Fund's inception, $8 million has been raised and $2.5 million has been granted for scientific research and related programs focused on women's cancers thanks to the generosity and continued support of donors. However, there's still much more progress to be made in the scientific community in regards to cancer research.
Sunday's game can be heard regionally on ESPN 730 AM with Bobby Rosinski and Lanny Ford returning to the broadcast as play-by-play and color analyst, respectively. A live video stream will be available on Charlotte49ers.com, while live stats are also linked through the website.
Updates during the game can also be found on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.