CHARLOTTE, N.C. -
The Charlotte 49ers built a 25-point halftime cushion and cruised to a 70-53
non-conference victory over Coppin State Thursday afternoon inside Halton Arena
to record double-digit victories. The contest was the program's annual
Education Day, with a season-high 5,565 fans in attendance, including over
4,300 students and chaperones from the greater Charlotte region.
The 49ers reached the 40-point plateau in the opening stanza for the fifth time this year, thanks to a solid 6-of-6 start from the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, senior Jennifer Hailey. At one point, Hailey outscored the entire Eagles roster, 15-14, before finishing with her ninth double-double of the season and 29th of her career with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
She was joined by classmate Amanda Dowe, who tallied her sixth double-double of the campaign and 14th of her career with 13 points and a game-best 14 boards. It marked the fifth time this season two Charlotte (10-3) players garnered a double-double in the same game and the fourth instance in which the tandem was Hailey and Dowe.
Junior Ny Hammonds and sophomore Hillary Sigmon rounded out a quartet of 49ers in double-figure scoring with 11 apiece. It marked the sixth-straight contest in which Sigmon has posted more than 10 points, while Hammonds, the nation's leader in assists per game, finished with seven helpers.
Shawntae Payne led Coppin State (4-10) with 12 points off the bench. She was the lone Eagle in double digits. Kyra Coleman hauled in a team-high eight boards but Charlotte won the battle on the glass, 50-37, for the 12th time in 13 games this year.
The 49ers squeezed Coppin State defensively, limiting the visitors to 22.9 percent from the floor in the first half and 29.4 percent overall. The Eagles were held without a 3-pointer, becoming the second opponent this season not to score behind the arc and joining North Carolina Central as the other school to do so this year.
Hailey put the Niners engine in motion with a quick basket just 11 seconds into the contest and sending the elementary kids contingent into a frenzy early. After Coppin State forced a tie on its next possession, a 5-0 Charlotte run gave the home team a lead it would not relinquish.
The advantage grew to 11, 16-5, on Sigmon's corner 3-pointer at 13:37, extending the program's streak to 59-straight games with at least one triple. A Jaleah Holsey free throw at 11:04 ended a three-minute, 46-second drought for the Eagles.
The 49ers offense continued to find the bottom of the net, rattling off the next-eight points, growing the margin to 18, 24-6, with 8:34 left in the half. Layups by Hailey and Dowe capped the overall 15-1 surge over a span of 6:14.
Janelle Lane ended the drought and the two teams would trade baskets during the next three minutes. An old-fashioned three-point play from freshman Kira Gordon at 5:27 ignited a 15-4 run to close the half and send the Niners into the break, up 43-28.
Coppin State threatened to slice into the deficit in the second half, cutting it down to 21, 51-30, just over five minutes into the period. However, a Tori Carter jumper at 11:27 and a Dowe layup 46 seconds later sandwiched a Lane charity toss and expanded to margin to 28, 61-33.
Following a short Eagles spurt, the 49ers answered with five straight of their own, capped by a Kira Gordon layup at 7:23 to take their largest lead at 29, 68-39. Fellow rookie Alexis Alexander hit a jumper with 6:03 remaining for a 70-41 cushion but Charlotte would not score again down the stretch.
Coppin State mounted a game-ending 12-0 streak, featuring four points apiece from Leola Spotwood and Larrisa Carter to decide the final outcome.
The 49ers return to action when they close out the non-conference portion of their schedule at 2 p.m. Sunday by playing host to Colgate of the Patriot League.
The game can be viewed live on Charlotte49ers.com with Josh Feldman handling the play-by-play duties.
Charlotte Postgame Quotes
Head Coach Cara Consuegra
First off, I want to talk about the environment. It was a great crowd with over 5,000 screaming kids. They were just incredible and brought the energy helped us to get going. I talked to the team before the game about how important it was to start well against Coppin State. They have been in some really tight games against some really good teams because they are the type of team that once they get going, they get a lot of confidence. It was important for us to start well. I thought the crowd helped us to do that. We came out focused. We had a couple turnovers right away but we re-focused from there. We had a great first 20 minutes. We had four players back in double figures, which is always great to see. We were on the positive side of the rebounding, which is always really important for us. We shot the ball well. We did a lot of good things, particularly in the first half.
On where the team is at this point in the season...
I think we're making progress. I'm not going to tell you where I want us to be because I think there's still some things we need to work on. Certainly, handling how physical they were with us, I didn't think we did a good job with that. I thought there were some instances where we lost our composure. We need to be better. There's times where our offense is incredible and then there's moments where we're really stagnant. We have a fantastic point guard in Ny Hammonds. That almost becomes a crutch for us because we stand around watching her a lot. We have to be better at moving and moving the ball, and working together. Those are some of the things we have to get better at. Defensively, we allowed way too much penetration. That's really a focus we have had over the last month. We just have to continue to get better. We shouldn't have given up 35 points in the second half. There are a lot of great positives so far, but we still have a long way to go.
On wanting to push the tempo and dictate offense...
It's always how we want to play. Sometimes we get away from that and I'm not sure why. We tried to be really focused over the last couple weeks regarding pushing the pace and running our transition at a sprint speed. Sometimes, we get to a point where we jog because we are faster than a lot of other teams. It's easy to say 'they are matched up with me, so I'm going to jog with them.' Our players need to get out and run. I thought this was our best game as far as running out in transition that we have had in awhile.
On what was said in timeout with four minutes left...
I just don't want to see a let up. I'm going to be intense from start to finish. I want every player to give us her very best while they are on the court. And if I don't feel like that's happening, whether we are up 30 or tied, or whatever it may be, I'm going to demand that from our players. And they know that. They are always going to know that about me. It's just a matter of not settling. Our team has a mentality of when we get up, to just coast the rest of the way. I talk to them all the time about that's not what championship teams do or what postseason teams do. They have an intensity from start to finish and that's what we're trying to develop on our team. It takes time but I'm going to stay on them to do that.
On importance of Dowe and Hailey to start strong...
It was very important. We knew it was going to a physical game. That's how Coppin State plays. They play very hard and physical. They don't back down and that's what I told the team. With our size advantage with those two, it was essential that we got them the ball. I thought we did a really good job of that. They did a really good job of when we passed into the post, they crowded us. We kept our composure, being strong with the ball and passing out of it.
On freshmen stepping up as calendar turns to 2013...
I thought Tori did a really good job in the first half when Jai Forney got into foul trouble. We needed her. That's what's tough about their role. They don't know when their number is going to be called but what I always tell them is, they always have to be ready. We don't know if we're going to need them for one minute, 15 minutes or more. I thought she came in and played within herself. When she plays within herself, she can be really good. She had a nice dump-down pass to Jenn and that's exactly what she's good at. Alexis too. She has to play within herself too. Sometimes, I think they try a little bit too hard. I think Alexis tries too hard. She needs to just let the game come to her. And defensively, she needs to get better for us. They are both, along with Kira, going to provide important minutes for us as we enter conference play.
Junior guard Ny Hammonds
On how team has progressed this season...
I feel like we're getting better every game. Our defense has to get better, like coach said, with penetration. That causes a lot of missed rotations and box outs. I think our defense has to get a lot better. But offensively, we're doing pretty good.
On going up against a press as the point guard...
It slows down our pace. They try to get us to lose our composure. I have my teammates to help me.
On being a team leader as a junior...
I feel like I'm one of the leaders.
On today's atmosphere of Education Day...
Education Day is always fun. We feed off their energy. It's always fun to see kids out there cheering for you and looking up to you.
On how the freshmen are coming along...
I think they are doing pretty good right now. I feel like when they start practicing better, they will be more effective in games. Like coach said, they don't know when their number will be called so they just always have to be ready.
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