Laia Raventos dropped 18 points and five dimes, Amaya Ransom recorded 12 points and 10 boards for her first double-double, but the Charlotte 49ers were unable to stop the Iowa Hawkeyes in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Clasico Tournament in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Freshman Octavia Wilson added 13 points to aid the 49ers’ efforts, but it was not enough as the Hawkeyes got hot in the fourth quarter.
Iowa was led by Megan Gustafson’s 23 points and 14 boards, and Mackenzie Meyer also dropped 17 points and seven assists. Tania Davis rounded out the Iowa scoring with 11 points and five dimes of her own.
“It’s disappointing, because I thought we did some things well enough to win,” said Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra. “I mean, I’m happy with the way we competed– Iowa’s a really good team, they’ll be playing in the NCAA Tournament– and we just came out and played hard from the tip, so I was proud of that growth from our team.”
In contrast to earlier games this season, the 49ers came firing out of the gates, blitzing the Hawkeyes 24-12 after the first quarter. During the frame, the 49ers hit four three-pointers, including two from Wilson, and connected on 59 percent of their field goals. Charlotte also went on a 13-4 run to gain momentum, while the Hawkeyes went the last three minutes without a field goal.
In the second quarter, however, the shooting woes returned for the Niners. Charlotte only scored eight points during the period, with the majority of them coming on the front end. Iowa scored the first five points of the quarter to bring their total to 19 points, but then the Niners used an array of layups off of turnovers to go up 30-19. However, Davis, Meyer and Gustafson all got hot for the Hawkeyes, as Davis & Meyers each hit treyballs as part of a game changing 16-2 run. The Niners also left a lot of points at the free throw line; they shot 9-24 (37.5 percent) for the game. Iowa went into the locker rooms leading 35-32.
After halftime, the battle between the two teams moved to the post. Gustafson and Charlotte’s Nyilah Jamison-Myers (seven points, seven rebounds) went at it down low, while Ransom continued to pace the Niners on the glass. Meyer and Davis continued to hurt Charlotte from the perimeter, as their hot shooting propelled Iowa to a 10-3 run. However, Charlotte would not be denied, as they made up seven of those points in the waning moments of the quarter. Charlotte trailed 56-49 after three.
The fourth quarter was the Gustafson show, as the low post player continued to score over the Charlotte defense. The 49ers only trailed by eight two minutes into the period, but the missed free throws mounted, and the Hawkeyes took advantage. Iowa stretched the lead to 15 and got timely help from their bench. Their bench narrowly outscored Charlotte’s, 15-12, and Iowa was able to pull away to win 77-64.
“We have to be better about controlling what we can control. Missed free throws, missed layups… if we do a better job of making even half of those, we’re in the game at the end of it.”
Charlotte has reason to be encouraged, as freshman Mariah Linney tallied a career high seven points, and the team got seven boards apiece from Jamison-Myers and Dara Pearson.
The Niners will rest before taking on South Dakota in their next game of the Tournament on Saturday. The game will be played in Fort Lauderdale and will tip off at 2:30 p.m.