CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte women’s basketball travels to the Eastern part of the state to square off against East Carolina at 5 p.m. Saturday, resuming its schedule after a mid-week postponement. The 49ers were slated to face UAB in Birmingham but inclement weather has caused the game to be rescheduled for a date still to be determined.
This season, Charlotte has put itself in a fifth-place tie of the Conference USA race after the first three-and-a-half weeks of the conference slate. The 49ers are 4-2 in the league, two games behind first-place and preseason favorite Middle Tennessee, after knocking off Rice Saturday, 58-53. The win improved Charlotte’s overall mark to 10-9, giving the program double-digit victories for the 15th-straight season.
Keying the success recently has been a balanced scoring attack with different players stepping up at various times to take charge. The equal distribution has played out throughout the season, as well, with four players averaging double-figure scoring led by redshirt junior Gabby Tyler and senior Ny Hammonds with 12.2 points per game apiece.
The pair is joined by sophomore Kira Gordon with an 11.2 mark and junior Hillary Sigmon at a 10.7 average.
In C-USA games, the same quartet averages in double figures again, though Tyler and Hammonds raise their marks to 15.8 and 13.2, respectively.
Tyler is also the Niners’ top rebounder with 7.4 boards per game, moving it to 7.8 in league contests. Gordon is next at 6.7 rebounds each time out, while her classmate, Alexis Alexander, also picks up 5.9 caroms per game. Gordon matches Tyler’s production in Conference USA-only games with her 7.8 average, while freshman Lefty Webster is third on the list with a 5.8 mark.
Webster’s average was boosted by a 10-rebound performance in Saturday’s win, setting a new career high and reaching double digits on the glass for the first time. She played a career-best tying 31 minutes against the Owls.
East Carolina, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Heather Macy, is 17-3 overall and 5-2 during the 2013-14 campaign. The Pirates are playing in their final season as Conference USA members before joining the American Athletic next year.
Jada Payne leads the squad with 20.8 points per game, one of four players around the league to average at least 20 points. She is joined in double-figure scoring by Abria Trice, who has tallied 16.6 points per contest.
After those two players, the highest scoring average for the rest of the same starting five in all 20 games is at 3.6. Bench production has been key to ECU’s success this year.
On the glass, Payne sets the tone with her 7.7 boards per outing, edging out the 7.4 hauled in by fellow starter Ondrea Shaw.
East Carolina is coming off a slim, 64-63, decision over Old Dominion Thursday afternoon in which it used a pair of free throws with 13.3 seconds left to pull out the triumph despite the Lady Monarchs hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to decide the final outcome.
Charlotte owns a 23-8 all-time series edge over ECU, including eight victories in the last 10 meetings, dating back to 2002. The 49ers put together a series-best 12-game win streak from 1987 to 1997 to pull way ahead in the head-to-head matchups.
Saturday’s game will be the first between the two programs under head coach Cara Consuegra’s watch, as they have not met since Charlotte earned a 79-61 home victory Dec. 5, 2010. The Niners are 10-6 in games played in Greenville, N.C., though the Pirates were triumphant in 2009, the last time the squads competed inside Minges Coliseum.
The contest can be heard live on Charlotte49ers.com with Josh Feldman handling play-by-play duties. Live stats and video are linked through the website, while updates are also available on Twitter by following @49erGameDay.
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