It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up.
The Charlotte 49ers are embracing this cliché motto this season as they push forward deeper into their Conference USA schedule. The 49ers have faced a number of obstacles thus far but continue to fight their way through numerous road blocks. Whether it’s inopportune injuries, back-to-back road trips or cold shooting nights, Charlotte is growing as a team before our eyes.
To kick off the New Year, the 49ers welcomed Old Dominion to Halton Arena. Charlotte struggled to limit the Lady Monarchs’ offensive production and ultimately suffered a devastating blow in their first conference matchup. The result wasn’t what the team envisioned, but instead of hanging their heads, the 49ers dug in. They went on to win both of their ensuing matchups (Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech) and posted the best defensive numbers in the conference over the two-game span.
“What a resilient win for our kids. We faced just about every obstacle we could’ve possibly faced at that time,” head coach Cara Consuegra said after defeating Louisiana Tech, capping off their first C-USA homestand. “They had a hunger and fight in them that I could see in their eyes the whole game.”
The irrepressible attitude didn’t cease.
Last week, Charlotte took the floor on the road at Marshall and battled the Thundering Herd right to the buzzer. The 49ers conceded a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter but again, instead of letting hardships define them, they inbounded the ball on the final possession and drained a 3-pointer to win the game.
Griffin Dempsey hadn’t scored up to that point in the game but embraced the opportunity. She stepped up and exhibited the confidence to take the significant shot although the momentum heavily favored Marshall.
Charlotte’s resilience carried them through a difficult road trip and it’s infected nearly every player on the roster.
They learned lessons during their time away from home and it showed this past week in Halton Arena.
“I think we learned a lot,” Consuegra said before taking on Florida International, Jan. 28. “In the Marshall game, we played really well for about 30 minutes and then they made a great comeback. We were able to execute really well to win that game but we learned a lot of things about that last quarter and how we need to continue to attack when we have the lead, because thats when we play our best.”
Although Consuegra used the word “attack” referring to her team’s mentality on the court, the term can easily be applied to the 49ers’ mentality off the court.
Again, prior to Charlotte’s matchup with Florida Atlantic, Jan. 30., Raventós was questionable due to injury. Consuegra wasn’t sure if she’d have the guard at her disposal.
“She went through shoot-around today and was cleared to play so we didn’t even know coming into this game if she was going to be ready to play,” Consuegra said after defeating FAU, Jan. 30. “That kid is beat up but she played so hard tonight.”
It wouldn’t have been uncommon for Raventós to play tentatively. She was nursing multiple injuries but ignored the pain and scoffed at the chance to make excuses.
Raventós sported a shoulder wrap and white medical tape on her right wrist. As Consuegra said, it didn’t slow Raventós down or shackle the freshman. Instead, she tallied a career-high 16 points and dished out five assists. She didn’t play hesitantly and executed the offense with confidence.
Furthermore, Alexis Alexander and Grace Hunter provided a lethal post presence. Ciara Gregory showed faith in her 3-point shot and drained two momentous triples halting the Owls’ offensive momentum.
Charlotte’s team effort powered them to their fifth conference victory and propelled them into the fifth spot in the C-USA standings. Now after three long weeks, the 49ers can rest. They can finally enjoy a few days off and can prepare for the gauntlet that rests in front of them.
“We’re going to be practicing rest, I can tell you that right now,” assistant coach Nicole Woods said. “Making sure we get our girls healthy and some extra rest and then we’re going to get back in it.”
Needless to say, health will go a long way in determining how the 49ers will finish the season. They’ve shown thus far that they can weather any storm and possess the attitude and resiliency to overcome just about any obstacle.
That makes them dangerous.