It wasn’t the most ideal situation, but the Charlotte 49ers’ women’s team was able to defeat the Duquesne Dukes after an impressive comeback, 75-72 on Friday evening. The 49ers, who won their seventh-straight season opener, were buoyed by redshirt senior Nyilah Jamison-Myers’ performance.
The transfer from Clemson poured in 18 points and five rebounds off the bench to lead the 49ers’ attack. Junior guard Laia Raventos tallied 16 points, six rebounds and five assists before fouling out, and senior Amaya Ransom added 13 points and eight boards. Freshman Octavia Wilson rounded out the Niner scoring with 10 points in her debut.
The Dukes were led by Chassidy Omogrosso’s 20 points and five assists, and Julijana Vojinovic had 12 points, eight boards and seven dimes despite being hampered by foul trouble. Conor Richardson had 11 points and five boards, and Amanda Kalin tallied 11 points (75 percent from 3PT) off the bench.
“Every day in practice, we talk about competing… we showed that in the fourth quarter,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said. “I thought we made great adjustments, the players got better communicating, we got the rebounds, got out in transition and at the end we just wanted to win. I’m really proud of our team.”
Charlotte used their size to their advantage, as they outrebounded the Dukes 43-35. That was largely due to the efforts of forward Dara Pearson, who led the team with 11 rebounds; she also contributed five points in her 31 minutes of play. That helped Charlotte build a 16-4 advantage in second chance points by the game’s end. Charlotte also scored 34 points in the paint to Duquesne’s 22, and the Niners shot 31-43 (72 percent) from the foul line. Duquesne only went 10-17 (59 percent).
“[Pearson] is known for her rebounds and defense. If she scores some points, we’ll take that,” Consuegra said. “We’re not going to sit back. Once we knew Duquesne was in the bonus, we had to keep attacking them. We didn’t feel like they could guard us when we got deep catches in the paint. That’s a credit to our players.”
Things started off with a bang, as the Dukes raced out to a 20-18 lead after the first frame. Duquesne was able to build off their three-point shooting, as they hit four treys during the period and ended the quarter on an 8-0 run. In the second quarter, the Niners went on an 8-0 run of their own, as Raventos started racking up the assists. The Dukes didn’t score a point over the final four minutes, and Charlotte went into the half with a 36-34 lead.
In the third quarter, Duquesne went on a tear, as they outscored Charlotte 24-16. They started on a 9-0 run, eventually gaining a 15-point advantage. Charlotte began to chip away, eventually narrowing the deficit to 10 going into the final quarter.
It was during the final quarter where Charlotte stepped up. After Jamison-Myers’ strong third quarter, the defense took a stand, and the Dukes kept committing fouls. The upperclassmen continued to knock down free throws, but Raventos fouled out, and Wilson and Mariah Linney, the two freshmen guards, had to finish it out. Wilson knocked down some clutch free throws of her own, and she went 6-6 from the line.
Ransom hit a layup with 90 seconds remaining, and Duquesne hit another three to tie the game at 71. Raventos was fouled on the ensuing possession and hit both free throws to extend the lead to 73-71, but fouled out on the next play down. Duquesne missed a buzzer beater, and Ransom corralled her final rebound and hit two more free throws to provide the final margin.
“Octavia Wilson and Mariah Linney are going to have to play minutes like that and they’re going to have to be in those situations. I trust them,” Consuegra said. “I felt confident in them.”
Charlotte doesn’t have much time to digest this win, as they hit the road this weekend to face the Wisconsin Badgers at noon on Sunday. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network Plus, and Charlotte will look for its second straight win.