|Charlotte set to open A-10 Tournament Saturday|
PHILADELPHIA - The Charlotte women's basketball team, with one of the most successful seasons in program history, will continue its campaign at 5 p.m. Saturday during quarterfinal round action at the 2013 Buick Atlantic 10 Championship at Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena in Philadelphia. The 49ers, seeded second in the 12-team field, will face the winner of No. 7 Xavier and No. 10 Temple in their first outing.
Charlotte concluded the regular season by tallying a school-record 13-straight victories to garner a 24-4 overall record. The Niners picked up the No. 2 seed with their 13-1 A-10 mark, matching the highest finish in program history with the 2006 squad in its inaugural league campaign.
The 49ers are 6-6 throughout their history in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, capturing a title in 2009 in its lone appearance in the championship game. Charlotte has reached at least the semifinals three times, from 2009 through 2011, and earned a first-round bye during six out of eight years as a member of the conference.
The last time the 49ers had a bye was 2010 when they went 1-1, falling to Xavier in the semifinals. Charlotte will be seeking its first victory in the tournament when it has been played in Philadelphia. The Niners enter with a 0-3 all-time mark in the city during tournament action, most recently dropping a first-round meeting with Saint Louis a year ago.
Charlotte is led by Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jennifer Hailey, who picked up just the second such honor in program history Thursday afternoon. She is the first 49ers conference player of the year since Kristin Wilson in 1986-87, who received the nod from the Sun Belt.
Hailey, an All-America candidate, finished with averages of 15.4 points and 11.9 rebounds and was a four-time Atlantic 10 Player of the Week. She reached the 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound milestones and became the school's career and single-season leader for blocked shots. She enters the tournament having at least one rejection in 40-straight outings, helping secure her spot on the All-Atlantic 10 First Team and Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team.
Joining Hailey as conference postseason award winners was Amanda Dowe and Ny Hammonds, who each garnered Third Team plaudits yesterday. Dowe, who shared the A-10 Player of the Week nod the final week of the regular season, also averaged a double-double with 10.6 points and 11.5 boards per game. Hammonds is the team's third-leading scorer at a 10.5 per contest clip, while also handing out a single-season school record 1982 assists.
The trio is rounded out on the starting five by Hillary Sigmon and Jai Forney, who pour in 9.9 and 9.6 points per game, respectively, to provide balance to head coach Cara Consuegra's lineup. Sigmon is the team's top outside threat, connecting on 59 3-pointers, while Forney enters the tournament fresh off a season-high 20 points at Richmond Sunday and is the team's third-leading rebounder at 4.1 caroms on average.
Xavier finished 13-15 overall and 7-7 in the league, having won its last six since dropping a Feb. 7 decision at regular-season champion Dayton. Amber Gray, an All-Atlantic 10 Third Team choice, guides the Musketeers with 11.1 points per game.
The Niners knocked off Xavier, 67-55, in Halton Arena Jan. 20. Charlotte shot 53.1 during the second half to expand on its six-point halftime cushion. Hailey led the way with 23 points on 11-of-14 field goals and 13 rebounds, while Ayanna Holmes came off the bench to pour in a season-best tying 11 points in just 17 minutes.
Temple brings a 12-17 overall and 5-9 ledger into the tournament, featuring a string of five-straight setbacks. The Owls last won Feb. 13 against Rhode Island, though three of their five losses were by 10 points or less. All-Atlantic 10 Second Team selection Victoria Macaulay paces the squad with 14.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest.
The 49ers handed Temple a 66-43 setback Feb. 6 in Halton Arena during the regular-season meeting. Hailey again had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds, while Kira Gordon hit her first-five shots to add 10 points off the bench.
Charlotte and Xavier have met twice in the league tournament, in the 2010 and 2011 semifinals, with the Musketeers winning both times. The 49ers own a 1-0 advantage against the Owls in the event, knocking off Temple, then the regular-season champion, in the 2009 semifinals on their way to the crown.
All Niners tournament games can be heard live on Charlotte49ers.com with Josh Feldman handling the play-by-play duties. Saturday's quarterfinal will be video streamed through Atlantic10.com with live stats also available via the conference website.
In-game updates will also be distributed on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.
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