Hunter's double-double leads Charlotte to road win
The Charlotte 49ers (16-5, 8-2 C-USA) women’s team was determined to bounce back after a disappointing home loss to Rice last week and the Niners did just that Thursday night against Florida Atlantic, 72-66. Grace Hunter was the MVP for Charlotte, as she tallied 26 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season. Ciara Gregory added 17 points and five assists and Lefty Webster had 13 points and nine boards. Nyilah Jamison-Myers added 10 points, eight boards and four blocks for Charlotte. Sasha Cedeno led the Owls with 15 points.
“I thought we played hard. I thought are effort definitely improved from where we were last week,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said after the game. “Offensively it was another frustrating day for us. … We’ve just got to continue to work through that, and I know that we will. But certainly, when you’re on the road, it’s always good to get a win.”
Hunter came out focused and ready for Charlotte, as she netted eight points in the first quarter of play. Those points were highlighted by two and-ones, which gave the Niners all the momentum. She, Webster and Jamison-Myers all tallied at least four rebounds in the period and their aggressiveness led to a 20-13 advantage after the first frame. During the initial period, Charlotte shot 8-22 (36 percent) from the floor and held FAU to 5-18 (27 percent) shooting. Jacey Bailey was the only one to make an impact for FAU, as her five points off the bench jump started the Owls.
Cedeno went on a personal 6-0 run at the beginning of the quarter, but Charlotte soon regrouped. Though they struggled from the field, the Niners got a lift from Gregory, who knocked down two treys during the quarter. Neither squad scored any fastbreak points, but Charlotte outscored FAU on second chance points (3-0) and in the paint (6-4). Thought FAU out-rebounded Charlotte 13-11, they only hit four field goals to Charlotte’s five. Charlotte generated six steals in the period, leading to a 33-23 halftime advantage.
After halftime, Charlotte relied on Jamison-Myers and Hunter. Hunter exploded in the third quarter, as she hit four of her seven field goals on the way to nine points in the quarter. Jamison-Myers, who was hampered by foul trouble, knocked down seven points in the quarter and added to Charlotte’s 12 points in the paint. The two teams tied in the scoring department, as they both scored 23 points in the frame. Both teams got hot from three-point land, but Charlotte held a 56-46 edge going into the fourth.
FAU surrendered the first four points in the fourth, but the three-ball kept them in the game. The Owls hit 11-31 (37 percent) three pointers to Charlotte’s six. FAU’s effort from the perimeter led to a 10-0 run that narrowed the gap to four. Gregory and Hunter both dropped seven points during the frame, but FAU never flinched. However, Charlotte was clutch at the free throw line, knocking down 5-6 from the line.
“What I love about Grace is the kid has a chip on her shoulder,” Consuegra said. “She was disappointed in how she played last week, and you could see that today from the minute the ball tipped. She was ready to go, and she hit some really big shots for us when we were struggling to score. …We need her to keep doing that.”
Charlotte will travel a short distance to Miami, Florida, to take on the FIU Panthers on Saturday at 2 p.m.