The Charlotte 49ers (10-11, 4-4) looked surprisingly unfocused following a one week break between games as they dropped a 72-52 decision against the Southern Miss Eagles (17-5, 6-3) on Saturday evening inside Halton Arena. The 49ers turned the ball over 22 times during the contest and hit just 21-62 (33.9 percent) from the field on the night.
“This was a very disappointing performance from our team. We had a bye week this week and we had an entire week to focus on us,” said Charlotte Head Coach Cara Consuegra post game.
“We actually had a really good week of practice and I thought we improved in a lot of areas. We came out tonight and unfortunately did not execute anything that we worked on. Our offensive execution tonight was very poor. I didn’t think we shared the ball well, I didn’t think we screened well and we just didn’t have any rhythm.”
The 49ers and Eagles each limped out of the gates early on in the contest. Charlotte found themselves holding a slight 6-4 advantage at the first media timeout despite turning the ball over four times in the first five minutes of action. Southern Miss committed two early turnovers of their own and hit just two of their first 10 shots from the floor to open the game.
Charlotte, playing without starting forward Gabby Tyler, struggled with depth in the front court for the majority of the first half after Alexis Alexander picked up two quick fouls. The Eagles took advantage of the foul trouble and began to pound the ball inside, sparking a quick 9-0 scoring run which put them on top 22-14 with 8:49 left in the opening half.
Southern Miss continued to create easy looks at the basket throughout the first half as the Eagles scored 28 points in the paint during the opening 20 minutes of the contest compared to just 14 for Charlotte.
The 49ers trailed by as much as 10 in the first half, but a timely triple from Hillary Sigmon and solid production from seldom-used freshman Kenya Olley kept Charlotte within single-digits heading into the locker room down 38-30 at halftime.
Charlotte struggled to find a rhythm offensively thanks in large part to 12 first half turnovers which resulted in 12 points on the other end for Southern Miss.
The 49ers looked much more focused coming out of the locker room, hitting four of their first six shots from the field as they cut the Eagles lead to just two points at 44-42 following a Kira Gordon lay-up with 13:29 left to play in the game. Gordon led the way for Charlotte in the loss, dropping in 12 points on 6-13 (46 percent) shooting to go along with a career-high 13 rebounds.
Charlotte hung tough until about midway through the second half when Southern Miss broke the game wide open with a 14-2 scoring run to capture a 65-50 advantage with 4:19 remaining in the contest.
The 49ers scored just four points in the final nine minutes of play as the Eagles cruised to a 72-52 Conference USA victory. The 20 point loss on Saturday evening proved to be the second largest margin of defeat for Charlotte this season.
Southern Miss guard Jamierra Faulkner had quite a night on both ends of the court as she scored 14 points while dishing out 13 assists to go along with her six steals on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Consuegra had high praise for Faulkner’s performance following the game.
“It was a struggle on defense tonight. Southern Miss is certainly a very good team and Jamierra Faulkner is the best guard in this league, no doubt about it.”
The Charlotte 49ers will hit the road for their next contest on Thursday, Feb. 13 when they travel to Ruston, La. to take on the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. Tip-off for that game is scheduled for 9 p.m.
Photos by Ben Coon.