Leadership in college basketball matters, on and off the court. It can be the difference in if a team can reach the “next level,” whether that’s traveling 10 hours away only to return home with a hard fought road win or qualifying for the women’s NCAA tournament for the first time in six years. The biggest leaders on college basketball teams are usually the battle-tested seniors, Charlotte is no different.
The Charlotte 49ers possess two senior leaders in Alexis Alexander and Kira Gordon. The two Georgia natives have been together since 2012. In their freshman seasons, they both enjoyed tallying 26 wins, second-most in school history and a record 13-game win streak and a trip to the WNIT.
After learning and playing under a few of Charlotte’s most decorated players for three years, Alexander and Gordon have inherited the senior leadership role. Through a third of the season, the dynamic duo have done so impeccably, leading by example on countless occasions.
Gordon, in her return to the starting lineup against Miami after occupying the sixth-man role for the first three games of the season re-cemented her place in the 49ers’ starting five. She scored a team-high 24 points and hauled in 10 rebounds.
In the same game, Alexander followed Gordon with 17 points and an additional 10 rebounds.
The senior duo provide a one-two punch offensively. While Alexander continues to prove that her face-up jumper is nearly automatic, Gordon stretches the floor with long range shooting capabilities. To date, Alexander is averaging 15 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting over 60 percent within the arc. Additionally, following her double-double performance against the College of Charleston, Alexander was tabbed College Sports Madness Conference-USA Player of the Week and named to the C-USA Honor Roll.
Her teammate, Gordon, is averaging 12 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting just over 50 percent from down town.
In fact, since Gordon returned to the starting lineup, both seniors have scored in double-digits in all but one of Charlotte’s victories.
The benefit of having not one, but two players with indispensable amounts of experience is invaluable. Both Alexander and Gordon have elevated their play this season, mirroring the likes of former 49ers’ front-court tandem Amanda Dowe and Jennifer Hailey. Sure, the current senior front-court tandem possess a few different qualities that the former duo didn’t have, but one characteristic they share is leadership.
Alexander and Gordon are the only two players that remain from the 26-win 49ers team. They’ve instilled a winning attitude within the current locker room and are passing on the top-notch habits they’ve accumulated through the years. With final exams nearing an end on the Charlotte campus, the team is preparing to return to the the court Sunday, Dec. 20 to battle in-state rival Davidson on the road.
The 49ers haven’t played a competitive game in nearly two weeks but as history shows, the seniors will lead by example. During the 2012-2013 season, Charlotte endured a long break during final exams week in which they enjoyed a double-digit win before Christmas. Like the illustrious duo before them, Alexander and Gordon will face the job of motivating and leading their team to victory following an extended break. There aren’t any signs that the Georgia natives can’t handle just that.