ORLANDO, Fla. – It may not have been the prettiest of wins but the Charlotte 49ers gutted out a 62-59 triumph at UCF Wednesday night in women’s basketball action at the UCF Arena in Orlando, Fla. The Niners controlled the boards by a 21-rebound difference, 54-to-33, to help them pull out the victory in a game which featured 41 combined fouls and 44 overall turnovers.
The senior post tandem of Jennifer Hailey and Amanda Doweonce again led the 49ers charge, as each registered a double-double. Hailey secured game-high honors with 18 points and 17 rebounds, a career best, while Dowe contributed 17 and 15, respectively. They were the lone Charlotte players in double figures in both categories.
The 49ers knocked down 51.7 percent (15-of-29) of their field goals in the second half, recovering a sluggish opening 20 minutes. Junior Hillary Sigmon dropped in the team’s lone triple, marking the second-straight contest in which the Niners hit only one shot from behind the arc.
Briahanna Jackson paced the Knights with 18 points, on a 6-of-23 performance, including 0-of-6 from 3-point territory. Fourteen of her points came after halftime.
Genevia Carter chipped in 15 points and Erika Jones hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds.
Charlotte overcame a pair of dry spells in the first half and rode the back of Hailey to take a one-point edge into the intermission. The 49ers started strong, using 10 Hailey points among its opening dozen before cooling off shortly thereafter.
When Hailey reached double figures at 13:29, Charlotte (4-1) was on top, 12-9, and had off-set a Gevenia Carter 3-pointer. Hailey’s next bucket came two minutes later and extended the 49ers lead to four, 16-12.
However, from that point forward, it turned into Carter’s show. She tallied six of her team’s last 10 points of the period. Meanwhile, Charlotte went over four minutes without scoring after Hailey’s final field goal of the stanza. It would be almost three minutes later before the next field goal dropped in for the green and white as Dowe hit a 17-footer near the top of the key, putting the Niners on top briefly, 21-18.
After Andrea Hines netted the final Knights basket at the 2:56 mark and a pair of Carter free throws made it a one-point, 22-21, lead with 15.7 seconds to play, the 49ers had one last chance. Hammonds took the ball into the lane and hit a running jumper just before the final horn to give Charlotte the 23-22 halftime edge.
Neither team was able to locate the bottom of the net until Carter drained a field goal at 17:11, returning the lead into UCF’s hands. After Kayli Keough expanded the margin to three following a 49ers turnover, Charlotte quickly answered with a 7-0 run, including an old fashioned three-point play from Dowe to cap the spurt, to give the visitors a 30-26 advantage with 15:51 remaining.
Stout Niners defense caused the Knights problems on their next possession but Keough drained a deep trey to beat the shot clock buzzer, keeping UCF (2-6) within a point. The cushion remained three, 35-32, at 14:07 on another Keough bucket before Charlotte sprinted ahead 43-34 thanks to an 8-2 run covering nearly five minutes.
Consecutive layups from Carter and Jackson helped the Knights trim the gap to five; however, Ayanna Holmes and Hailey each hit a pair of free throws to once again stretch the edge to nine, 47-38. Yet another lull in the Niner offense allowed the Knights to use a 10-1 streak to cut the gap to one, 49-48. Sigmon then took over, going to her left for a contested layup and then burying the lone 3-pointer on the next Charlotte possession, helping keep the margin at four, 54-50.
The Knights remained pesky down the stretch, with Jackson taking the reins of the offense. She hit a jumper with 2:30 on the clock and converted a pair of charity tosses at 1:19 to make the 49ers margin just two, 58-56.
Following a back-door layup by Jai Forney on a Sigmon assist making it a four-point edge, Jackson was fouled attempting a 3-pointer with 45.7 seconds remaining. She stepped to the foul line and hit all three free throws, making it a one-point difference, 60-59.
Defense on both ends kept it tight in the waning moments. Holmes grabbed a defensive rebound for Charlotte and was immediately fouled with 12.0 seconds left. She went to the other foul line and connected on both attempts, setting the final score, as Jackson’s step-back 3-point attempt air-balled and the Niners held on for the win.