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Alexis Alexander tallied a career-high 13 points and grabbed 10...
Courtesy: Charlotte Sports Information
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Second half cools 49ers in desert tourney opener

LAS VEGAS – Charlotte women’s basketball took a two-point lead into halftime but a slow start to the second period allowed Cincinnati to rally for the 71-64 victory over the 49ers Saturday afternoon in the first round of the UNLV-hosted Lady Rebel Round-Up in Las Vegas.

Sophomore Alexis Alexander made her first career start in the contest and finished with her first career double-double, a career-high 13 points and 10 rebounds to go along with her career-best five blocked shots in 33 minutes. She was the lone Niners player with double-figure caroms off the glass.

Junior Hillary Sigmon drained 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc as part of her career-high 22 points, which led all scorers. Senior Ny Hammonds chipped in 14 points, giving Charlotte (3-4) a trio in double digits.

Freshman Kenya Olley made her collegiate debut, seeing the floor for a combined three minutes of both halves.

Jeanise Randolph paced four Bearcats with 20 points, knocking down 9-of-14 from the floor. She collected 11 rebounds for a double-double. Also reaching the double-digit scoring plateau for Cincinnati were Alyesha Lovett (14 points), Dayeesha Hollins (11) and Alexis Durley (10).

The game started with both teams taking aim at claiming the lead but neither could mount more than a two-point edge and Alexander’s tip-in at 14:26 forced the fourth tie, 9-9. It would be a part of a 49ers’ 6-0 run, as sophomore Kira Gordon and Alexander added buckets in the next 1:20 to give Charlotte the largest lead for either side at that point, 13-9, with 13:06 remaining.

Following an old-fashioned three-point play from Lovett to trim the gap to one, a Tori Carter layup and triple by Sigmon wided the advantage back to a half dozen, 18-12, with 10:37 on the clock. The lead remained six over a minute later before Cincinnati (2-3) used a pair of Lovett field goals in its own 6-0 surge to knot the score once again, 20-20, at the 7:44 mark.

By 5:56, the Niners built their lead back to five, 27-22, as Hammonds hit a jumper. Not to be outdone, the Bearcats turned to Randolph for four straight and used a Marley Hill layup to reclaim a 27-26 advantage with 3:48 remaining.

It then became Charlotte’s turn again, as Sigmon dropped in her second triple to put the 49ers back on top, an advantage they would not relinquish the remainder of the period, and would take a 35-33 edge into the intermission.

Lovett started the second stanza with a game-tying jumper, but Hammonds answered with a trifecta of her own, pushing the Niners’ lead back to three, 38-35, with 17:56 to play. The Bearcats then mounted a 7-0 surge, covering under five minutes, to post a 44-38 edge with exactly 13 minutes to go.

Two times in the next three minutes Charlotte trimmed the gap to four but it could get no closer and a pair of Randolph layups made it an eight-point difference, 50-42, at 9:04. Freshman Lefty Webster then helped pull the 49ers again within four with two quick buckets of her own and the deficit remained there at 52-48 following a Sigmon basket with 5:57 on the clock.

An 8-2 Cincinnati run pushed the gap to 10, 60-50, at 2:37, giving it the first double-digit lead for either team. The Niners continued to chip away at the deficit, as Sigmon’s final 3-pointer with 34 seconds to go pulled Charlotte within six, 67-61. The margin was sliced down to as close as four, 68-64, as Hammonds converted another triple with 15 ticks left, but the 49ers could get no closer.

Charlotte will now face tournament host UNLV in Sunday’s consolation game at 4 p.m. EST. The Lady Rebels fell to Fordham in Saturday’s first game.

Follow @49erGameDay for all in-game updates, while Josh Feldman will have the call on the audio feed.

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