Charlotte falls short in comeback quest versus Rice
The Charlotte 49ers women’s team overcame a slow start but faltered in the final seconds, as they ultimately lost to the Rice Owls 55-52. Jasmine Goodwine had 16 points to lead the Owls, and Maya Hawkins added 10, including the go-ahead three-pointer with 8.1 seconds left.
Meanwhile, Nyilah Jamison-Myers had 16 points and five boards for Charlotte, and Lefty Webster added 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals. Grace Hunter had 11 rebounds to lead Charlotte in that category.
The Niners couldn’t get anything to drop in the first quarter. While they only surrendered 14 points, they only scored six themselves. The squad went 3-18 from the floor in the first, with the only baskets coming from Myers and Webster. Despite the poor shooting, Charlotte actually committed less turnovers than Rice (four to three) and outrebounded the Owls 12-11 in the period.
The second quarter was better, as the Niners raised their field goal percentage to 44 percent. Webster continued to find Myers on deep catches in the paint, and Rice had no answer. Myers netted eight points in the period while contributing to Charlotte’s 14-10 advantage in points in the paint. Charlotte ended the quarter with some momentum, as Ciara Gregory’s first three-pointer narrowed the halftime deficit to single digits (32-23).
“All is not lost; we’re a good team, but we’re trying to become great,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said afterwards. “That’s the difference; great teams don’t have let downs like we’ve had. Credit to Rice, they played great, but we’ve got to compete from the moment the ball tips. If we do that, then again maybe the outcome is different.”
The Niners came racing out of the floodgates in the third quarter, as their switch to a zone defense led to plenty of steals and deflections. Laia Raventos, Gregory and Webster all scored during their 11-0 run which forced Rice to call a timeout. Gregory hit two more threes in the quarter, helping Charlotte out score Rice 18-10 in the frame. However, Rice still led after three, 42-41, as Goodwine started to get hot.
The fourth quarter was exciting and filled with up and down action. The bench contributed for Charlotte, as Amaya Ransom and Jaida Robinson both had timely buckets. The Niners totaled seven offensive rebounds in the quarter, helping them score 11 points. However, the last minute of play was full of drama.
After Raventos missed a contested jumper, Rice called timeout and elected to run down the clock. On the ensuing play, Hawkins came off a screen and hit the go-ahead three pointer from the left wing with eight ticks left to give Rice a 54-52 lead. Charlotte called time and advanced the ball to halfcourt, and they ran the same play for Grace Hunter that won the game against WKU.
However, Hunter was draped by a bigger defender, and the off-balanced layup rolled out. The Niners fouled with 1.1 seconds left, and Rice split their free throws, leaving the Niners down by three, 55-52. After another Charlotte timeout, Gregory inbounded the ball to Raventos, who passed it back to Gregory, but her long three point attempt hit the back rim.
“We’re going to go with what works. I thought she had a good look, and obviously, she had a taller player on her in Jasmine Goodwine,” Consuegra said when asked about the final play. “She was forced to take an off-balanced shot, but Grace can make off-balanced shots. I think everyone believes in her and we’re going to continue to call her number in those situations.”
Charlotte will look to rebound as they go on the road next week to take on Florida Atlantic. The game is set for Thursday, February 2 and will tip off at 7 p.m.