Despite 18 points from senior Amaya Ransom, the Charlotte 49ers were unable to knock off 11th-seeded North Texas in the first round of the C-USA Tournament, as they fell 58-55 in another close contest. With the loss, Charlotte finished the season with a record of 14-16. The Niners also got help from Laia Raventos, who added 13 points, seven dimes, six boards and four steals. Dara Pearson added eight points and eight boards for a near double-double.
Meanwhile, the Mean Green were paced by Terriell Bradley’s 16 points. Lauren Holmes and Grace Goodheart added 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Mean Green led by as many as 14 during the contest, but they were able to stave off a final Charlotte rally in the fourth quarter.
“Just disappointed with my team. I think this game characterized most of our season in that we played a really good second half and a really poor first half,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said. “You can’t play 20 minutes and think you’re going to beat teams in this league. They’re too good.”
The first quarter was a back and forth affair, with the Niners going up 4-2 before a 6-0 Mean Green run put NT in front. Raventos recorded a pilfer on the defensive end before both teams traded three-pointers, and North Texas went up 14-12 after a low scoring first quarter.
In the second, the Mean Green blew the game open. Charlotte started things off well enough with a 5-0 run, but NT countered with runs of 9-2 and 6-0, and Charlotte found themselves down 10 points, 29-19. The return of Nyilah Jamison-Myers, who had been out with an ankle injury, helped Charlotte to a 6-0 run, but NT ended the half with another 7-0 run as they went into the half up 36-25. The Mean Green outscored the 49ers 22-13.
North Texas got its largest lead of the game early in the second half, as another run stretched the lead to 14. Charlotte was able to fight back, on the strength of Jamison-Myers and Ransom. Raventos also wreaked havoc on the defensive end, and before long, the Niners had narrowed the deficit to six, 48-42, going into the final quarter.
Raventos and Ransom cranked up the energy in the fourth, as they narrowed the deficit to two points. However, the last two minutes of the game were full of fireworks as each time tried to outduel the other. Raventos’ buckets brought Charlotte within three, 53-50, but a defensive lapse resulted in another NT treyball. Pearson and Ransom continued to contribute, with Ransom’s final threeball dropping with just over 10 seconds left to bring them within two, 57-55. NT split consecutive trips to the line, giving Charlotte a chance. The Niners got two looks from downtown in the last 10 seconds, but neither dropped, and Charlotte ran out of time to foul.
“To my team’s credit, they regrouped at halftime and we played how we expected to play defensively in holding them to 30 percent shooting in the second half,” Consuegra said. “It’s just a shame we couldn’t put that effort together for two halves. I’m proud of Amaya, being a senior… I mean, she really finished her season strong. And I thought her energy kept us going in this game when we had to go through some hard times.”
With the loss, Charlotte closes the season at 14-16, with a 10-6 record in Conference USA. The team will look to build on its youthful roster and come back stronger than ever next year.