PHILADELPHIA - Charlotte erased an eight-point halftime
deficit and turned it into a five-point victory, knocking off previously
Atlantic 10 unbeaten Saint Joseph's, 71-66, Sunday afternoon at Michael J.
Hagan '85 Arena in Philadelphia Sunday afternoon. It marks the second-straight
Sunday in which the 49ers were the first loss for a conference foe.
Senior Jennifer Hailey, the two-time reigning A-10 Player of the Week, led the charge with her eighth-straight double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds, while tying the school's career blocked shots record with a pair of rejections.
Fellow senior Amanda Dowe added a double-double of her own with 19 points and 14 rebounds, also contributing a pair of blocks.
All five Niners starters reached double-figure points, as Ny Hammonds poured in 17, and Hillary Sigmon and Jai Forney chipped in 10 apiece.
Chatilla van Grinsven paced the Hawks with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Erin Shields knocked down three 3-pointers among her 13 points. Natasha Cloud added a dozen for Saint Joseph's.
The game opened with a high-intensity, fast-paced action that did not stop except for two fouls during the opening 6:14 of the contest. During the scoring frenzy, Hailey tallied the 49ers' first four buckets for eight points, helping the squad build an 8-6 lead. However, Mirela Vila put the Hawks back on top with the game's initial 3-pointer at 14:38 before adding another on the next Saint Joseph's (16-6, 7-1 A-10) trip down the floor.
After her second triple gave the Hawks a 13-10 lead, the Niners battled back to tally the next five, capped by a Sigmon trey at 13:13 and help force a 15-15 tie at the first media timeout, which did not come until the 12:46 mark.
Saint Joseph's turned the timeout into its favor, rattling off six straight, including a pair from van Grinsven, and ending up with an 11-2 spurt to open a 26-17 cushion and forcing the second Charlotte (18-4, 7-1 A-10) timeout of the period at the 8:37 mark.
It then became the Hammonds show, as she poured in eight-consecutive points for the 49ers, to counter a better defensive effort, helping to bring Charlotte within three at one point, 26-23. The Hawks would turn to van Grinsven for three-straight field goals, expanding their lead back to nine, 32-23, before Hammonds' final bucket in the run.
The Niners trimmed the deficit to five twice down the stretch, the last on a Hammonds layup at 1:08, but a 4-1 Saint Joseph's half-closing streak put the Hawks into the locker room ahead eight, 40-32.
The second period opened with Charlotte feeding the ball to its other post presence, Dowe, for six-in-a-row and cutting the deficit to two, 40-38, and forcing SJU into a timeout by the 18:07 mark. The lead would not go over four during the next three minutes, as Forney buried a 3-pointer from the wing, keeping the 49ers within one, 46-45.
After a Hammonds free throw tied it at 46-46, Sigmon went to the top-of-the-key for a 3-pointer at 13:37, giving Charlotte its first lead since her trey at 13:13 of the first half. Alexis Alexander kept the Niners on top but Saint Joseph's kept fighting, climbing back to a 55-55 deadlock on an old-fashioned three-point play from Ashley Prim at 8:49.
The 49ers, however, continued to find Dowe down low and used another 3-pointer out of Sigmon's hands to jump out to a 60-55 lead at the third media timeout, with 7:09 remaining. Charlotte continued to torch the nets, adding buckets from Forney and Hammonds, while Dowe added a pair of free throws at 4:18 to increase the lead to a game-high 11, 66-55.
The Hawks made a run at trimming the margin to single digits, as Shields hit a trey and Cloud added a layup to pull them within five, 67-62, with 2:36 left. A pair of van Grinsven free throws cut it to three, 67-64, but the 49ers helped ice it with charity tosses down the stretch, including a pair from Hammonds with 12.8 seconds remaining.
Charlotte returns to action when it plays host to Atlantic 10 newcomer Butler at 7 p.m. Wednesday inside Halton Arena. It will mark the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
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