RICHMOND, Va. – Charlotte closed the opening period on a 16-2 spurt and never looked back to earn a 64-55 victory Sunday afternoon at Richmond in the women’s basketball regular-season finale for both programs. The win is the 13th in a row for the 49ers, extending the school record, and assuring them of the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Senior Amanda Dowe led the charge with 13 points and a career-best 21 rebounds, including 13 on the defensive glass. She collected 13 boards in the second half, while adding three steals, two assists and 5-of-8 from the floor in 37 minutes.
Her 21 rebounds are the most for any player under head coach Cara Consuegra and tie for ninth in a single-game in program history. The last time a 49er had at least 21 rebounds was Barbara Reedus Dec. 19, 1987, against North Alabama with 22.
Also having a standout performance was classmate Jai Forney, who chipped in a season-high 20 points, one shy of her career best. She knocked down 8-of-12 field goals and 4-of-6 free throws to become the fourth different player to reach the 20-point plateau this season.
Ny Hammonds chipped in 14 points, rounding out a trio in double-digit scoring. Jennifer Hailey was held without a double-double for the second-straight time; however, she blocked one shot to break her own single-season school record with 74. Her rejection also gives her at least one in 40-straight games.
Becca Wann paced the Spiders with 14 points off the bench, one more than Rachael Bilney’s baker’s dozen. The pair was also among Richmond’s top rebounders with nine and eight, respectively, with Bilney’s twin sister, Sam, hauling in nine caroms to share team-high honors with Wann.
Charlotte (24-4, 13-1 A-10) trailed for much of the first half, allowing the Spiders to pull ahead by as much as six. However, after the last half-dozen edge, the Niners permitted just two free throws in the final 6:57. Atlantic 10 Player of the Year candidate Hailey started the surge with a layup at 6:01, which was then followed by a layup and jumper from Forney andHillary Sigmon, respectively, to force a 17-17 tie with 4:33 to play.
Dowe then dropped in an old-fashioned three-point play with 2:55 on the clock, providing the Niners with a 20-17 advantage. She would add another charity toss but a pair at the line from Kristina King kept Richmond within a possession, 21-19.
Two more free throws ensued for Hammonds, while Forney dropped in a pair of field goals, including a long two-pointer from the right wing with three seconds left to pad the halftime cushion at eight, 27-19.
The Spiders jumped out in front early, holding off the Niners during the first eight minutes before a Hailey layup leading into under 12-minute media timeout at 11:46 gave Charlotte its initial advantage at 9-8. Richmond, however, ripped off the next seven, starting with a pair of Wann baskets in the paint and capping the spurt with a Rachael Bilney 3-pointer to push its edge to 15-9 with 8:34 left.
The margin stayed at half dozen, 17-11, when Yazmean Burgess netted a jumper for the Spiders at 6:57. However, it would prove to be the final field goal of the stanza for Richmond (16-14, 6-8 A-10), who went cold down the stretch allowing Charlotte to reclaim the lead and never relinquishing it again.
The momentum, however, did not carry over into the early stages of the second half. The Spiders came out of the locker room with a 6-0 streak, closing the gap to just two, 27-25. Not to be outdone, the Niners responded with an 11-2 surge in the next three minutes, using a transition 3-pointer from Sigmon to push their lead back to 11 and forcing Richmond to call a timeout.
Two Amber Nichols free throws trimmed the gap to seven, 38-31, but Hammonds toed the line for a pair herself following a technical foul call on the Spiders bench to keep Charlotte ahead 11, 42-31, at the 13:55 mark.
Richmond would eventually close the deficit to seven two more times by the under-eight minute timeout, the last at 7:52 on a Kristina King layup, but it would not be able to put a dent into the 49ers’ lead any further.
Charlotte expanded its cushion to 11 four more times, while maintaining at least a seven-point advantage, to hold off the Spiders and pick up its ninth-straight win in the series and clinch an 11-0 record in true road games this season.
The 49ers, with their No. 2 seed, have locked up their highest finish in the Atlantic 10 since 2005-06, their first campaign competing in the conference. Charlotte will face the winner of the No. 7 and No. 10 matchup, which is still to be determined.
Final seeding information and bracket release will be announced later Sunday evening. The Niners, by virtue of the bye, will not begin tournament play until Saturday in Philadelphia at Saint Joseph’s Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena