|Hatters slip past 49ers in tight road matchup|
DELAND, Fla. – A back-and-forth tussle came down to the final seconds but Charlotte came up just a possession short in dropping an 83-81 decision to Stetson Tuesday inside the Edmunds Center in DeLand, Fla. Five 49ers netted double-figure points, including four starters with redshirt junior Gabby Tyler and sophomore Alexis Alexander each netting career bests.
Tyler led Charlotte with 18 points and nine rebounds, finishing just shy of a double-double in her return to the court after missing the last three games. Alexander also almost posted a double-double, tallying 16 points and equaling Tyler for team-high honors on the glass, with junior Hillary Sigmon trailing just behind with eight.
Sigmon’s eight boards nearly gave three Niners a double-double, as she connected on a pair of 3-pointers as part of her 15 points. Senior Ny Hammonds and junior Ayanna Holmes each added 10 points to round out the top scorers.
Junior Olivia Rankin garnered her first career start, playing a career-best 23 minutes with four points, four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
Sasha Sims poured in 22 points to pace the Hatters, including knocking down all three of her shots from long range. Cherisse Burris chipped in 15 points, Brianti Saunders added 13 and Jama Sharp and Myeisha Hall each notched a dozen to round out a balanced attack for the home squad. Burris grabbed 11 rebounds for her double-double, but it was not enough on the glass, as Charlotte won that battle, 46-35.
The first half featured runs from both teams with neither side taking more than a seven-point advantage throughout the period. Unfortunately for the 49ers, Stetson was boosted by a 12-6 spurt in the waning minutes to earn a six-point halftime lead.
Tyler put Charlotte (4-6) on her back early, scoring the squad’s first six points, all in the paint, before Holmes went to the hoop uncontested for a layup from the left side to give the Niners an 8-6 lead entering the first media timeout.
Tyler’s last basket in the opening stretch ignited a 7-0 run, covering over three minutes, as the 49ers built a 13-6 edge with 13:51 remaining. The Hatters, however, would not let Charlotte continue to pad its cushion and they came roaring back with a 7-0 stretch of their own in just 1:14. An old-fashioned three-point play from Saunders and back-to-back layups via Sharp kept Stetson (6-4) in the contest.
The two teams traded baskets and the score would be tied four times in the next three minutes before another 49ers surge, this time an 8-0 run turned a two-point deficit into a six-point advantage. Tyler again was the main contributor, pouring in one-half of the Charlotte scores in the stretch to help give her team a 28-22 lead with 8:02 left.
Not to be outdone again, the Hatters clawed their way back with a 10-0 run as the 49ers offense went cold in the next two-and-a-half minutes. Alexander forced the stanza’s eighth deadlock at 4:48 for a 30-30 score on a turnaround jumper but it would mark the final field goal of the period for the Niners.
Charlotte was able to remain close by continuing to shoot well at the charity stripe. The 49ers finished the session 10-of-11 (90.9 percent) at the line, and despite a pair of late 3-pointers by Hall, trailed just six, 42-36, at the intermission.
The second half featured more of the same, though the Niners closed the gap quickly thanks to a 9-3 run in just over three minutes to force a 45-45 deadlock with 16:49 to play. Sigmon scored five points during the spurt, including a traditional three-point play, igniting the charge.
Stetson did not waver and pushed its lead back to six, 52-46, as a Sharp triple at 14:36 capped the spurt and the 49ers were kept off the scoreboard for over three minutes. Finally, a Hammonds top-of-the-key trey at 13:32 ended the drought and two close shots, one each by Rankin and Sigmon, cut the margin to one, 54-53, at the 12:14 mark.
The five-straight Charlotte points were a part of a larger 11-5 run, putting the visitors back on top, 57-56, with 10:35 to play. The lead traded hands five more times over the next four-and-a-half minutes before Sims buried a 3-pointer at the 4:43 mark to give the Hatters the lead for good, 69-66. It seemed as if every time the 49ers would make it a one-possession contest, Stetson kept its distance with a timely bucket.
Following a Hall tip-in with just under a minute left to make it a 78-73 score, a costly shot-clock violation turned the ball back over to the Hatters. Charlotte caught a break when Sharp made just 1-of-2 at the line and freshman Lefty Webster’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds to play cut it back to one possession, 79-76.
Forced to foul to keep close, the 49ers ran out of chances and Webster drained a half-court heave at the buzzer to decide the final outcome.
Charlotte will look to bounce back in its final game before the Christmas holiday, a cross-county trek to Davidson for a 1 p.m. Saturday matchup. The 49ers won both meetings inside Halton Arena against the Wildcats a season ago, improving their record to 13-8 in the all-time series.
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