The Charlotte 49ers (17-9, 9-6 C-USA) lost a heartbreaker to the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers( 21-6, 13-2) Thursday night, 75-74, despite having three players score over 15 points.
Charlotte’s Ciara Gregory lead the 49ers with 22 points, shooting 6-of-13 from the field and 5-of-12 from three-point land. She also knocked down all five of her shots from the free throw line.
In the first quarter, Charlotte shot 58 percent from the floor with eight of those buckets being down low in the paint. In addition to hitting seven of their 12 shots from the field, the Niners also sat at a comfortable 75 percent from three-point land, knocking down three of their four attempts.
Over the last few minutes of the first quarter, Charlotte went on a 11-2 run, started by two steals, leading to fast-break points. The 49ers scored with four different players during the run, as Gregory ended the quarter with a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Charlotte a 20-15 advantage.
In the second quarter, Charlotte shot over 50 percent from the field, knocking down eight of their 14 shots, with all of those coming inside the three-point line. Grace Hunter helped the Niners grab a 10-point lead with back-to-back bucket to start the quarter, leading to a Lady Toppers’ timeout.
Kendall Noble answered with a run of her own, scoring the first 10 points of the quarter for WKU. Charlotte held a six-point lead going into halftime, 38-32, after Tashia Brown of WKU knocked down a three-pointer with 11 seconds left to cut into the deficit.
Much like in the first half, the 49ers saw the majority of their points coming from in the paint; 19 to be exact. But WKU went on a 7-0 run two minutes into the third quarter, cutting the 49ers’ lead to one, 40-39. Ivy Brown started another run for the Lady Toppers, knocking down the first of four-straight threes for WKU, giving the home team a 51-45 lead. After three free throws from Gregory for Charlotte, the Lady Toppers went on yet another run, this time a 9-2 spurt, to take a 10-point lead heading into the fourth, 60-50.
Jaida Robinson provided solid minutes off the bench for Charlotte in the fourth, helping spark an 8-2 run to start the quarter, but the 49ers still trailed 71-66. With less than two minutes to play, Hunter got a steal and threw an outlet pass to Lefty Webster who sprinted down the court, caught the long pass and finished at the rim, now trailing 71-73.
The 49ers called a timeout and after a few traded buckets, Gregory knocked down a three with 23 seconds to play, making it a one-point game, 75-74. After a five-second call on WKU trying to inbound the ball, Webster was stripped on the next possession. Charlotte then had to foul the Lady Toppers with 2.2 seconds remaining, down by one. WKU missed both free throws and coach Cara Consuegra issued a timeout. Gregory got the call from Consuegra but her long-range three-point attempt missed off the back iron, giving WKU a one-point victory.
Charlotte will travel to Huntington, West Virginia, to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd at 1 p.m. on Saturday.