Kira Gordon picked up right where she left off last week, exhibiting an offensive clinic against Miami Monday, Nov. 23. Gordon reclaimed a spot in the starting lineup and proved why she’s started every game since her sophomore year prior to the current campaign. Behind Gordon’s 24 points and 10 rebounds, the 49ers nearly swept Miami to the side in thrilling fashion, tallying 70 points against the highly touted ‘Canes’ defense.
Entering the 2015-16 season, 49ers head coach Cara Consuegra’s offense altered to suit a new, up-tempo style of play. Due to the offensive change, Gordon adapted to a new, unfamiliar role, the sixth man, through the first three regular season games. Even though Gordon consecutively started her previous 62 games prior to the current season, her on-court production didn’t diminish whatsoever.
In Gordon’s first game off the bench, Nov. 13 against Ball State, she played 23 minutes and tallied nine points. Two days later, in her second game off the bench, Gordon played a team-high 30 minutes and performed slightly better than she did in her previous outing. Against Robert Morris, Gordon recorded eight points and hauled in four rebounds.
Four days later, Nov. 19, on the road at Elon, Gordon made it known that she was ready to reclaim a starting role. Gordon checked into the third quarter while the 49ers trailed the Phoenix by 23 points. Gordon’s determination and confidence was key as Charlotte erased the double-digit deficit late in the contest. Gordon’s five rebounds and 16 points on 5-8 shooting from the field impressed her coaches.
“She’s been really steady,” assistant coach Joanne Aluka-White said. “After the first two games she didn’t start, she was really steady in practice and showed her discipline and was giving everybody energy. Today was a no brainer for her to start and showcase what she’s able to do day in and day out for us.”
Gordon certainly showcased her offensive ability tallying a new career-high in scoring while recording a double-double simultaneously. Gordon established rhythm early knocking down her first jump shot with just over three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Her early trifecta pulled the 49ers within four points of Miami while her ensuing two point field goal halted the ‘Canes late first quarter scoring push.
Gordon exuded consistency Monday night. In the second and third quarters, she was the go-to player for Charlotte. If Gordon wasn’t knocking down three-point jumpers, she was manufacturing three-point plays drawing the foul on a converted layup under the basketball.
With just over two minutes played in the second quarter, Miami held an eight point advantage, their largest lead of the night.
At the time, Charlotte needed a player to produce a game-changing play. As she’s done on multiple occasions this season, Gordon delivered for the 49ers, driving to the basket, scoring a heavily contested layup while drawing the foul on Miami’s Keyona Hayes. Gordon stepped to the foul line and knocked down the free throw routinely.
The three-point play ignited the team and crowd, leading the 49ers’ to a 13-1 run reclaiming the lead. Neither Gordon nor Charlotte looked back as they continued to confidently challenge the highly talented ‘Canes on both ends of the floor. Gordon’s old-fashioned three-point play became routine as she forced Miami into unwanted shooting fouls. When Gordon wasn’t netting 22-foot jump shots or contested layups, she was hauling in defensive rebounds, kickstarting Charlotte’s transition play.
Gordon’s emotionally charged performance led to a career-high in scoring but perhaps what she didn’t do was most important. Gordon logged 36 minutes on the night, spending only four minutes on the bench. In those 36 minutes, she turned the ball over just once. In a game in which Gordon found the ball in her hands more often than not, her single turnover is a testament to her decision making and awareness on the court.
Miami, a team known for their defensive prowess and quick hands, struggled defensively to not only pickpocket Gordon but also to keep her in front of them. Gordon confidently went toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s top defense’s and based on the results, there’s no reason to doubt Gordon as a starter going forward.