Laia Raventos dropped 20 points, 10 dimes and six boards, Octavia Wilson added 12 points, but the Charlotte 49ers lost a heartbreaking 71-69 contest to Wake Forest. Mariah Linney and Amaya Ransom both added nine points, and Jaida Robinson grabbed 12 rebounds for the visiting 49ers.
Elisa Penna dropped 24 points on 8-19 shooting for the Demon Deacons, and she was flanked by Tyra Whitehead’s 15 points and Alex Sharp’s 10 points. Both Whitehead and Sharp had eight boards apiece for Wake Forest. Meanwhile, Ariel Stephenson only scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting (1-5 from downtown), but she made the most crucial basket. Stephenson’s drive on a fastbreak gave Wake Forest the go-ahead, game winning basket with 2.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I felt like we lost the game at the end of the second quarter, not even the final minute of the fourth quarter,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said. “It’s easy to pinpoint the last minute. We didn’t execute as well as I would have liked. …We have to learn to have a killer’s mentality.”
Charlotte came out blazing, as they put up 20 points to match the Demon Deacons in the first quarter. The Niners shot 9-13 (69.2 percent) in the frame, compared to Wake Forest’s 7-17 (41.2 percent) shooting. The quarter featured eight ties and five lead changes, as Raventos hit all of her field goals to give Charlotte some momentum.
The hot shooting stopped for both teams in the second quarter, as the Niners scored 13 points to Wake Forest’s 11. Charlotte connected on 42 percent of their field goals, while the Demon Deacons managed to shoot 31 percent. Charlotte began the quarter strong, but Raventos’ second personal foul forced her to the bench, and Wake Forest responded with a 6-0 run to close the half. Charlotte led 33-31 at intermission, but the Demon Deacons had all the momentum.
Wake started the second half on a 5-0 mini-run before the Niners recovered. After Linney knocked down a treyball, the two teams continued the see-saw affair. Charlotte managed to hit five of their 12 field goals during the period, but the Deacs outshot them percentage wise, and they also made four of six free throw attempts. The Niners, who only went 3-9 (33 percent) from the stripe for the game, went 1-2 in the quarter. The Deacs outscored Charlotte 16-12 in the third, and they led the Niners 47-45 going into the final quarter.
Neither team could gain an advantage in the fourth, as both teams continued to hit from the floor. Finally, Charlotte went on an 8-0 run to go up 59-53 at the halfway mark. Wake countered with an 8-2 run, capped by free throws to tie the score again. In the final minute, Penna scored her last basket on an and-one play, bringing Wake Forest within one, 67-66. Ransom scored her final points, but Charlotte then missed two free throws in a row, and Wake Forest split their free throws, tying the game at 69.
With time running out, Raventos had a good look at a game winner with less than 10 ticks remaining, but she missed the shot. The Deacs got the rebound and the run out, and Stephenson’s layup in transition with 2.8 seconds left gave them the lead. Charlotte got off a long shot attempt at the buzzer, but it didn’t fall, and Wake escaped with the home victory.
“It’s tough, because this is the fourth or fifth game of this [losing a close game in the final minute],” Consuegra said. “It’s frustrating, to be 100 percent honest. My team’s competing, and that’s a good thing, and we’re there. But I’m sick of losing, man. There’s nothing else I can say.”
With the win, Wake improved to 7-5 on the year, while Charlotte moved to 3-7. The 49ers will look to close out the road swing with a game on Thursday at rival Davidson. The game against the Wildcats will be played at 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.