Hailey’s double-double helps 49ers down Xavier, 67-55

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte needed all 40 minutes thanks to an all-around team effort to hand Xavier a 67-55 setback Sunday afternoon in Atlantic 10 women’s basketball action inside Halton Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

The 49ers turned to their All-A-10 honoree, senior Jennifer Hailey, to guide them throughout the contest. She finished with her 12th double-double of the campaign and 32nd of her career with game-high honors of 23 points and 13 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive glass. She also added three blocked shots, extending her streak to 29-straight contests, while surpassing the 1,200-point plateau for her career and sliding into 13thplace on the school’s all-time list.

Also chipping in for the triumph were Jai Forney with 14 points and Ayanna Holmes, who finished a point shy of her career best with 11, including all five of her free throw attempts.

The Niners finished the game shooting 47.6 percent from the floor (30-of-63), including a blistering 53.1 percent (17-of-32) during the second period.

Xavier also placed three players in double-figure scoring and was led by Ashley Wanninger’s 19 points, including three of the team’s four 3-pointers. Shatyra Hawkes poured in 15 points and Briana Glover recorded 11 to round out the trio.

Amber Gray paced the Musketeers with 12 boards, featuring 10 caroms defensively.

The game started with the two teams trading baskets through the opening five minutes before Wanninger’s first triple at 15:13 gave Xavier (6-11, 0-3 A-10) a four-point cushion, 12-8. Glover dropped in a free throw to expand it to five before Charlotte countered with a 6-0 run, all Hailey points, to reclaim the advantage, 14-13, at the 12:34 mark.

Again, the two teams took turns during the next five minutes before Hillary Sigmon converted the 49ers’ lone 3-pointer of the afternoon at 6:43. Alexis Alexander came off the bench, added a layup following a Forney steal, and Forney added a layup of her own to increase the Charlotte (13-4, 2-1 A-10) margin back to a half-dozen, 25-19, with 4:35 remaining.

The Musketeers chopped the gap down to one possession in the next 2:20 but Forney and Ny Hammonds ensured the Niners would enter the locker room by a larger margin, making it a six-point difference, 29-23, at the intermission.

Another 6-0 Charlotte spurt early in the second half followed Hawkes’ period-opening basket, giving the 49ers their first double-digit edge, 35-25, with 17:37 left. The lead grew to as high as 12 twice, the last at 41-29 on a pair of Holmes charity tosses at 14:27 but Xavier refused to quit.

The visitors rattled off a 14-6 surge, covering just over six minutes, to trim the deficit to four, 47-43, with 8:15 on the clock. Wanninger found the bottom of the net for seven of her team’s final nine points in the stretch.

After a near three-minute drought for both teams, yet another 6-0 Niners swing took the lead back to double figures, 53-43, with 4:49 to go. Wanninger, again, was the answer for Xavier, by knocking down her final 3-pointer of the contest to halt the Charlotte push.

The Musketeers kept fighting and four-straight Glover points sliced the gap to five, 60-55, with 1:51 left. However, the 49ers defense stepped up and held XU off the board the remainder of the contest and an old-fashioned three-point play from Hailey at 1:16 helped settle the outcome.

Forney was credited with a block, defensive rebound and layup at the other end, making it a 10-point cushion with 47 seconds remaining. After a missed Xavier jumper, Hailey added one more basket for good measure with just over 10 seconds to play.

Charlotte will have a week off before it resumes Atlantic 10 action at 2 p.m. Eastern Sunday in St. Louis, Mo., against long-time foe, the Saint Louis Billikens. SLU dropped a 69-38 decision to Saint Joseph’s at home Sunday, sending its record to 7-11 overall and 1-2 in the conference.

Charlotte Postgame Quotes vs. Xavier
Head Coach Cara Consuegra

Opening statement…
It was great to see our team defend our home court. We wanted to protect our house. We have a great winning tradition here at Halton Arena. It was very important coming from a home loss to make sure that we took care of business. I thought we did a great job. It was a battle even with Xavier being down some players. We were the tougher team down the stretch. We executed on getting to the loose balls, protecting the ball, rebounding and being able to out run them was key to the game. Fast break points proved to be very essential. We finished with 18 fast break points. Jennifer Hailey today was absolutely magnificent and the only thing to stop her was her foul trouble. Hailey was incredible on the block, great touch and good rebounds. I would like to point Ayanna Holmes as someone who came in down the stretch and was incredible. Holmes is a great teammate. She waits for number to be called. We needed Ayanna to step up tonight since Hillary was not having the best night. Ayanna was crucial in Charlotte getting the win. Happy for the win. We will go on from here.

On halftime adjustments…
We spoke on playing tougher. Xavier did not run anything that we did not discuss. The first half we were not laser focused in on the game and that created mistakes. I talked with my team on making Xavier earn their baskets. Not giving Xavier easy layups, paint scores and free throws could be the difference in our success in the next half. We did a better job of making it tougher for Xavier to score in the second half. This was not our best game in general defending another team’s sets but we did enough to get the win and made adjustments with being tougher. Our team stepped up to the challenge.

On difference between the two halves…
The biggest thing about us is we have to not settle to play at another teams pace. I think that we do that a lot and I do not understand why. We are in much better shape and are much faster than Xavier. We continually preached to our team on increasing our pace in transition and offense sets. In the first half we did not do a good job of that. We made it easier for Xavier as well in the first half with not playing to our full potential. We were not making it tough for them to make shots; also, we were not making it tough for them to guard us. In the second half we finally kicked into the right gear by separating ourselves with some of those fast breaks. Even when we did not score we put a lot more pressure on Xavier because of the way that we were running and it was a big time difference in the game.

On adjusting when Hillary’s not able to hit outside shots…
We tried to move the ball around more. Jenn and Amanda have always been a focus for us. They played a lot of zone in the second half, which was tough for us when Hillary was not making shots. We talk about getting better ball movement when play against zone defense. The ball will just stick into someone’s hands and it leads to the zone reset. We talked about moving the ball better and trying to get the ball inside and challenging our post players to work harder. I think they did better job and we were able paint jumpers against that zone.

On what to work on this week with not playing for seven days…
For Charlotte,  it is all about the little things. We do a lot of things well. The obstacle that is stopping our team from being great is the little things. For example defensively, knowing the scout from top to bottom and executing it. Knowing how to play wing – ball screen vs. a top ball screen. That is focus and communication and sometimes that breaks down on us. We are continuing to get better with our pressure defensively. I thought at times we did that tonight. Offensively, I think we need to get a lot better right now. I do not think our execution is very sharp. We are setting screens well but we are not using screens well. These are easy fixes that we are going to focus on in this by week. It’s the last bye week of the season, so we are going to do a lot of focus on that. Just to know what we are looking for out of stuff and run it well.

On state of the team at this point in the season…
I think our talent is as good as anybody in the league but sometimes talent is not enough. It takes the little things that I just spoke on. We play hard, we battle hard and we cover that stuff. A lot of the little things just need to sharpen up with this team. I think if we can have that mentality to step forward and complete what the coaches are asking for, we may be able to move from good to great. That is a challenge that is out there for the team right now and they know it and are well aware of it.

Senior forward Jenn Hailey

On what made her successful today…
I was able to post up and work to get my position in the paint in order for the guards to pass me the ball. I did my work early tonight.

On importance of a home conference win…
It feels good. I felt like our first home game we could have won but mistakes were made and we were not able to bounce back but today we played great and we were able to bounce back and get a home win.

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