Laia Raventos surveys the Rice defense. NT File Photo

The 49ers could not tame the red-hot bears as Charlotte fell to Mercer 90-74 in their final non-conference game of the season.

Mercer got off to a hot start by starting the game on an 11-3 run behind a three-pointer by Kahlia Lawrence. With Mercer leading 16-9 with 4:09 left to play in the 1st quarter, Charlotte ties the game 19-19 with two three-pointers coming from Amaya Ransom. A layup by Charlotte sophomore Dara Pearson with 30 seconds left in the first quarter would give Charlotte their first lead of the game 21-19.

At the beginning of the second quarter, another three-pointer by Mercer’s Kahlia Lawrence would tie the game up 22-22. The 49ers lead would go back and forth after this as Charlotte freshman Octavia Wilson would drain a three-pointer which gave the 49ers the lead for 17 seconds as Lawrence would hit another three-pointer which would tie the game.

With the score tied 29-29 with 7:21 left to play in the second quarter, the 49ers took the lead by scoring eight consecutive points capped off by a jumper from Charlotte’s Laia Raventos. With Charlotte leading 39-30 with 3:39 left to play in the second quarter, Mercer posted seven consecutive points which would cut the Niners lead down to two.

At the beginning of the third quarter, Mercer captured the lead once again behind a layup and foul shot from Rachel Selph. A three-pointer from Wilson would keep the game close 52-50. With Mercer leading 62-55 with 1:25 left to play in the third quarter, Raventos tallied  four consecutive points to cut Mercer’s lead down to three.

Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, a three-pointer by Mercer’s Keke Calloway and a three-point play by Alex Williams extended Mercer’s lead, 67-59.  The Niners could not find an answer as a layup by Mercer’s Sydni Means allowed Mercer a double-digit lead 75-65 with five minutes left to play in the game.

Despite the loss, Raventos collected a career-high 29 points.

“Laia is a competitor. [That’s] my favorite thing about coaching her – I love that about her,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said. “She plays hard, gives me everything in practices and games. She fights for this team and I thought that is what she did. Anytime we needed a basket, anytime Mercer was making a run, she just put it right down their throats.”

Both teams had four players score in double figures. Mercer’s Lawrence would lead the team in scoring with 27 points. Turnovers would prove costly for niners with Mercer scoring 24 of their points off turnovers.

“We have to get better at the controllable things that can help us close that gap, from being close to getting a win. It is turnovers, missed layups, missed free throws, breakdowns in our defense,” Consuegra said. “At this point in time, we have been playing this defense for 13 games – it should not be broken down like this. It is continuing to focus on taking care of those things.”

Charlotte will begin conference play Thursday, Jan. 4 at 11 a.m. when they take on Southern Miss.