MINNEAPOLIS – Charlotte was as cold as the temperature outside with its shooting performance Wednesday night in Minneapolis, as the 49ers dropped a 90-55 decision to Minnesota in the second of three-straight road games.
Charlotte was led by redshirt junior Gabby Tyler, who tallied a career-best 16 points on 5-of-9 field goals and 6-of-8 free throws. She added six rebounds and a blocked shot in 29 minutes.
Freshman Lefty Webster chipped in a career-high 11 points, though she missed her first free throw of the season after 13-straight makes. She swiped a game-best tying two steals, as her defensive efforts in the second half disrupted the Golden Gophers’ offense on several occasions.
Sophomore Alexis Alexander hauled in a career-high 12 rebounds, sharing game-best honors with Minnesota’s Amanda Zahui B.
The 49ers were just 17-of-68 (25.0 percent) on field goals for the contest, including 0-of-13 from behind the 3-point arc to snap their streak of at least one triple in 80-straight games. The Niners continued their consistency at the charity stripe, however, knocking down 21-of-29.
Zahui B. finished with a double-double to go with her dozen caroms, recording 19 points as one of three Minnesota players in double figures. All-American Rachel Banham chipped in a game-high 20 points, including three trifectas, while Micaëlla Riché pitched in a dozen points.
For the second-straight game, Charlotte struggled from the floor to open up the contest. It managed just 5-of-29 on first-half field goals with three of those coming in the last 3:30 of the period. Meanwhile, the 49ers converted 17-of-22 free throws during the opening 20 minutes, as they aggressively sent four Golden Gophers to the bench with three fouls apiece.
A 6-4 Minnesota (2-0) lead was burst open by 6-0 run in a minute-and-a-half stretch. While the host Gophers were able to connect on their field goals, Charlotte’s efforts at the foul line were unable to keep it close. The margin quickly swelled to double digits, 18-8, by the 11:53 mark when Banham drained her first of two-straight 3-pointers. When she hit her second triple, a minute later to increase the Minnesota advantage to 11, 21-10, the Niners were forced to call timeout and regroup.
The second trey was part of an 18-6 run covering nearly six minutes that created a 23-point edge for the Golden Gophers, 39-16, with 5:14 remaining. Each of the half-dozen points for Charlotte (1-2) during the span were at the foul line.
The lead grew to as high as 25, 45-20, with 3:28 to go, but the 49ers turned to their inside presence, Tyler, to key a half-closing 7-4 turnaround and pull the visitors within 22, 49-27, at the intermission. Tyler equaled Minnesota’s team scoring down the stretch, while sophomore Tori Carter made a running five-footer.
Although Charlotte entered the break with momentum, it was short lived to begin the second stanza. An old-fashioned three-point play by Zahui B. increased the gap to 26, 59-33, at 16:04, and two minutes later, her putback on an offensive rebound made it a 27-point contest, 62-35.
The difference reached 30 by 8:08 on a field goal from Kayla Hirt, giving the Gophers a 72-42 cushion. Following a backcourt steal and uncontested layup at the other end by Webster, Minnesota rattled off a 5-0 run to move the deficit to 33, 77-44, with just under six minutes to play. The closest the 49ers would get the remainder of the game would be 30, on a Hillary Sigmon jumper at 5:13.
The Golden Gophers built their advantage to as high as 36, 86-50, at the 3:22 mark but Charlotte could not put a dent into the margin any closer than 33 down the stretch.
The loss is the 49ers’ worst since a 90-31 setback at No. 4 Notre Dame, Dec. 20, 2009, a span of 124 games. It also snaps the Niners’ streak of at least one 3-pointer in 80-straight contests, dating back to Jan. 26, 2011, in a road win at Richmond.
It also marks the first time in the tenure of head coach Cara Consuegra Charlotte falls under .500 with its 1-2 record. The 49ers, though, did block seven shots against Minnesota, their most since eight against Davidson in the WNIT Second Round March 24, 2013.
Charlotte will look to regroup as it winds up the three-game road trip with a 7 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 20 meeting with FGCU in Ft. Myers, Fla.