Point guard Laia Raventos dazzled with 21 points and five dimes, Amaya Ransom hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 10 seconds left, but South Dakota State’s Madison Guebert hit a three at the buzzer to defeat the Charlotte 49ers 71-70 in their last game at the Puerto Rico Clasico in Fort Lauderale, FL. Ransom’s treyball was her second of the game, and she finished with 16 points and four rebounds. She and Raventos were joined in double figures by Octavia Wilson, who netted 10 points.
Macy Miller led the Jackrabbits with 25 points, five rebounds and four assists, and she hit four of her eight three-point attempts. Guebert was the only other Jackrabbit in double figures, and she contributed 20 points (including 5-9 from 3PT) in 34 minutes of action. South Dakota State was relentless from the perimeter, as they hit 14 of their 28 threes, compared to Charlotte’s 3-8 (37.5 percent) shooting from downtown.
“This was by far our most complete game of the season. I thought we played very, very well,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said. “Defensively, our game plan was very solid and I thought our players executed it great. … it really just came down to them making one more shot than us.”
The Niners came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, as they built a 18-13 advantage after one. The Charlotte zone paid dividends against SDSU. Despite their red-hot shooting, the Niners were able to go on runs of 6-0 and 5-1 as Raventos and Wilson found their grooves early. However, the Jackrabbits’ bench was able to keep them in the game. Two SDSU players, Tylee Irwin and Rylie Cascio Jensen, hit two three-pointers each in the game to help the Jackrabbits win the battle in bench points, 17-12.
In the second period, the teams traded baskets throughout. The seesaw battle saw Raventos and Nyilah Jamison-Myers (nine points) assert themselves. However, the zone started leaving gaps on the perimeter for the Jackrabbits, as Miller and Cascio Jensen took advantage. The quarter also saw aggressive drives from Wilson (4-4 from FT line) and Dara Pearson (11 total rebounds). Despite outscoring Charlotte 21-20 in the quarter, Guebert continued firing from long range, and the sniper landed another treyball just before the half to narrow Charlotte’s lead to 38-34.
South Dakota State picked up where they left off in the third quarter, surrendering twos and converting threes as Miller asserted herself from the perimeter. Raventos led the Niners, as her passing and athletic drives to the basket helped raise Charlotte’s field goal and free throw percentage. The Jackrabbits began to seize control towards the end, as they went on a 6-0 run, but Raventos’ drive and free throws gave Charlotte the lead again, 54-53 going into the final quarter.
After going up by seven, 64-57, the Niners saw South Dakota State go on an 8-0 run of their own in the fourth. The drama intensified in the final 90 seconds, as both teams traded and-ones: Wilson’s and-one gave Charlotte a 67-65 lead, but Guebert’s clutch drive led to an and-one of her own, and SDSU went up 68-67. Ransom then hit the go-ahead treyball with 10 ticks left, and Charlotte deflected the ball out of bounds with less than four seconds remaining. However, Guebert got the ball after a timeout and launched the game winning three pointer at the buzzer to give the Jackrabbits the win.
“Most important thing is we’re competing hard and we’re getting better,” Consuegra said. “This schedule was set up for us to be challenged, to lose some games, to find out what we’re made of and where we need to improve. … Almost every team we’ve played so far is gonna be playing in the NCAA Tournament or the WNIT. We’re doing that for a purpose.”
Charlotte will return home and then will hit the road again on Nov. 30, as they will travel to in state rival ECU for another non-conference battle. The game will be played in Greenville, NC and will tip off at 5:30 p.m.