AMHERST, Mass. - Charlotte netted the game's opening 11
points and never looked back in cruising to a 79-60 Atlantic 10 victory
Wednesday evening inside the Mullins Center over Massachusetts. The Niners
built their cushion to as high as 33 before locking up their ninth road win in nine true away games this season. It also marked the program's 10th-straight
win overall, tying for third in school history for the longest streak.
The 49ers were led by a 17-point, eight-assist performance by Ny Hammonds. Hammonds' eight helpers, with zero turnovers, moved her into first on the school's single-season assists list with 163, eclipsing the 162 set by Terri Hemphill in 1981-82.
Jennifer Hailey added her 11th-straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. It marked her 20th double-double of the season and 40th of her career, while she continues to post one in every Atlantic 10 game this year.
Jai Forney chipped in a season-high tying 16 points on 7-of-11 field goals, while Hillary Sigmon poured in 11, including three of the team's four 3-pointers.
Jasmine Watson, a Preseason All-Atlantic 10 Second Team selection, guided the Minutewomen with 14 points. Rashida Timbilla and Kim Pierre-Louis each registered 11 points to give UMass a trio in double-figure scoring.
The Niners jumped out to the early advantage thanks to missing just one field goal among their opening five attempts, holding Massachusetts (3-23, 1-10 A-10) off the board until it got a Pierre-Louis free throw at the 15:37 mark. Hailey and Hammonds tallied five and four points, respectively, in the opening sequence.
Triples by Forney and Sigmon bookended a pair of Minutewomen field goals, as the 49ers increased their margin to 14, 19-5, by the 13:51 mark. The difference swelled to as much as 18 less than two minutes later on a pair of Hammonds free throws and a Kira Gordon jumper.
UMass, however, kept fighting back and pulled within 14, 23-9, on back-to-back Watson conversions, before Charlotte mounted a 12-0 run over the next seven minutes to see its lead grow to as much as 26, 35-9, as Ayanna Holmes closed the spurt with a pair of jumpers.
The Minutewomen inched within 21 following a Pierre-Louis jumper and 3-pointer from Emily Mital to make it 35-14 with 3:10 to play. The 49ers then closed the period with a 6-3 stretch to take a 41-17 lead at the half, their third-largest halftime advantage of the season.
Massachusetts made it closer in the second half, outscoring the Niners 43-38 during the 20-minute frame. The two squads traded baskets early before a Hammonds jumper at 18:12 pushed the edge to 28, 50-22. Neither team scored for nearly two minutes and then consecutive 3-pointers from Sigmon increased the margin to 31, 56-25, by the 15:41 mark.
Hailey added a layup on the next Charlotte possession and the lead swelled to as much as 33, 60-27, following her second-straight conversion at 14:55. The 49ers held at least a 30-point advantage until the 13:09 mark when two Timbilla charity tosses ignited a 10-0 run over nearly a three-minute span.
Hailey finally ended the Charlotte drought with a layup at 9:56, putting in her own offensive rebound. The 49ers used an Alexis Alexander jumper to take a 69-40 lead with 9:04 to play for their largest lead in the final stretches.
As Charlotte began to empty the bench, and eventually play everyone that was active, the Minutewomen took advantage and outscored the 49ers by 10 the remainder of the contest. Back-to-back Adriana Jordan jumpers cut the deficit to 18, 75-57, and capped a 9-0 spurt for UMass with 1:50 left.
The Niners freshmen on the court would not let Massachusetts get any closer in closing out the victory.
Charlotte returns to action at 1 p.m. Sunday when it hits the road again for Philadelphia, this time to face La Salle. The Explorers dropped to 8-18 overall and 4-7 in the conference following their 68-31 loss at Saint Joseph's Wednesday.
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