EL PASO, Texas – Charlotte held a three-point lead at the half but a quick start to the second period pushed Louisiana Tech ahead and the 49ers never recovered fully, dropping a 64-55 decision Wednesday in the Conference USA Championships Second Round in El Paso, Texas. It marked the Niners’ return to the league tournament since 2005 when they played host to the event before jumping to the Atlantic 10.
Senior Ny Hammonds, a member of the All-Conference USA Second Team, led all players with 18 points, hitting one-half of her 14 field goals and all four free throws. She also handed out four assists with a steal, while playing all 40 minutes. Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler and sophomore Alexis Alexander each added 10 points, providing Charlotte (15-15) with a trio of double-figure scorers.
Sophomore Kira Gordon and All-Conference USA Freshman Team selection Lefty Webster each grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the 49ers win the battle on the glass, 48-to-36.
Whitney Frazier, an All-Conference USA Second Team member, and Kelia Shelton paced the Lady Techsters with 15 points apiece, while Chrisstasia Walter and Lulu Perry each chipped in 11. Shelton grabbed a team-high nine boards, one more than Frazier.
With Charlotte ahead by three, 32-29, at the intermission, Louisiana Tech (12-19) quickly mounted a 10-2 run in the opening 4:25 of the frame to pull ahead, 39-34. The two teams would trade baskets during the next four minutes until a pair of Perry charity tosses at 11:26 pushed LA Tech’s advantage to seven, 45-38.
The 49ers then made their run, slicing the deficit to one, 46-45, by the 7:21 mark behind a 7-1 surge with contributions from three players. The Lady Techsters’ lead grew to no more than four over the next 4:15, as Hammonds dropped in a pair of free throws to force a 51-51 tie at 3:06.
Webster drew the Niners even at 53-53 with 2:27 to play, but Louisiana Tech connected on 5-of-8 free throws in addition to back-to-back Perry layups to pull away down the stretch and decide the final outcome.
Charlotte had started the contest with the first-four points, as Gordon and Hammonds knocked down jumpers. The 49ers eventually saw their lead swell to as much as six, the last at 11-5, with 12:23 remaining when freshman Kenya Olley buried a 17-footer.
The Lady Techsters then answered with a 9-1 surge, covering just over a five-minute span, when Veanca Hall’s layup gave them a 14-12 edge with 9:13 on the clock. A see-saw affair kept the score close until Shelton drained her second 3-pointer of the half, helping increase LA Tech’s margin to five, 19-14, at 6:41.
The Niners, however, refused to quit, mounting a 10-4 run in the next three minutes to reclaim the lead, 24-23. Neither team inched ahead by more than one until Alexander’s jumper at 1:07 marked the final bucket of the half and Charlotte entered the locker room up three.
The 49ers will now await the postseason tournament selections Monday night to learn if they will live to play another game this season.
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