On November 13, 2009, the Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team lost to the East Carolina Pirates by 23 points in their season opener.
Despite losing, Charlotte was strongly encouraged by one player after the ECU game. A freshman forward by the name of Jennifer Hailey, playing in her first game at the collegiate level, scored 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead the team in each category.
Hailey, Amanda Dowe and Jai Forney were three freshmen on a team that finished 18-4 and only lost two games at home in Halton Arena.
Four years, 130 games and four postseason berths later, Hailey, Dowe and Forney finished their careers with 87 total wins; the winningest senior class in Charlotte women’s basketball history.
A 72-60 victory over the Davidson Wildcats in the second round of the 2013 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) gave the class one more win than the class of 2011.
In a four year span, Hailey and Forney tied Shannon MaCallum’s school record of 130 games played.
This year’s class has also contributed to a streak of 11 straight postseason births. The streak is a feat that only 12 of the 345 NCAA Division-1 women’s basektball programs have achieved.
In a school record 130 games played, Jai Forney averaged 6.1 points per game. She took exactly 800 shots and made 325 of them for an impressive career shooting percentage that ended up to be just over 40 percent.
The guard from Charlotte, N.C. recorded 281 assists and 126 steals as a 49er.
“Playing for Charlotte and being from Charlotte is an amazing thing. Just going out and having Charlotte on your jersey. Playing in front of amazing fans and having everyone there to support you,” said Forney.
One of the highlights of Forney’s career came on her senior night, a late-season conference game against Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). She beat the halftime buzzer with a 40-foot heave. The ball rattled in and capped a 15-1 Charlotte run to end the half.
Her career highlight was also a national highlight, as the play was ranked No.4 on ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays of the day.
Amanda Dowe will leave Charlotte as one of the best forwards to ever put on a green and white 49ers uniform. Her 23 career double-doubles are the sixth-most in program history. She is one of only 35 players in women’s college basketball that averaged a double-double this season.
Dowe’s 916 career rebounds are the fifth-most in school history. She averaged 7.5 boards a game.
The forward from Tabor City, N.C. scored 767 points and averaged 6.3 points per game for her career. She made an impressive 47 percent of her 628 career field goal attempts.
Dowe exploded in her senior season and averaged over 10 points a game. She scored a career-high 21 points in an early-season victory over the TCU Horned Frogs.
As for Jennifer Hailey, the career-opening, Conference Rookie of the Week earning, 17-point/seven-rebound performance was only the beginning of a legendary career.
After a school-record 130 games played, the forward from Marshville, N.C. will be remembered as one of the greatest players in program history.
Hailey blocked more shots (231) than any player in Charlotte history. In the final 44 games of her career, Hailey recored at least one block. The rejection streak ended when her team lost to Florida in the Sweet Sixteen of the WNIT.
Hailey will also go down as one of the greatest rebounders that the program has ever seen. Her 1,089 career boards are the fourth-most in school history.
Number 30 was a force on the offensive end of the floor as well. Her 1,453 points rank her ninth on Charlotte’s all-time list. She is only the 20th player in program history to hit the 1,000-point mark in a career.
Being an impressive scorer and rebounder, Hailey was nothing short of a double-double machine. In her career, Hailey recorded an absurd 42 double-doubles. Only three players in program history have more in a career. She, along with Dowe, was one of 35 players in women’s basketball to average a double-double during her senior season.
Her 1,453 points and 1,089 rebounds made Hailey the fourth Charlotte women’s basketball player to record 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
During her senior campaign Hailey earned A-10 Player of the Week honors four times, including a conference record three consecutive weeks.
Her brilliant 2012-13 season earned the senior A-10 Player of the Year honors. Hailey is only the second player in Charlotte history to be named conference player of the year, and the first to do it in the A-10. 49er great Kristin Wilson received the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year award for the 1986-87 season.
“It was great to play for Charlotte,” Hailey said after her team’s WNIT elimination. “I liked the environment. I liked Niner Nation, they bring a lot to us. They keep us going. I just want to thank everyone here at Charlotte.”
Hailey, Dowe and Forney not only make up the most successful senior class in Charlotte women’s basketball history, but for two years they were a part of the 2011 class who holds second place in the wins column. The three players will be missed, but because of their accomplishments, never forgotten.
The fans who watched will never forget, the program will never forget and Head Coach Cara Consuegra will certainly never forget what the trio did for women’s basketball at Charlotte.
After the Florida loss, an emotional Consuegra noted that “Jai, Jenn, Amanda were incredible leaders.”
“They were what you want out of seniors. They were perfect but they battled to be better. They believed in my vision, my staff and me. Every day they went out to accomplish that and you could see it building our team. We were not perfect in November or December. We dropped games we did not think we should drop. You could see it build as we went in to conference play. We really took off, that was a full year of work it did not happen over a couple of months. It started with a commitment we made in April. It changed this program in many ways.”