The Charlotte 49ers will pack their bags and head to Miami, Fla., to take on No.22-ranked Miami Hurricanes Wednesday night at 7 p.m., trying to remain perfect on the season. Charlotte has looked great over their first two games, picking up wins against Wisconsin and College of Charleston, averaging 62.5 points per game, while only allowing 48.5 points per game.
Last season, the Hurricanes defeated the 49ers inside Halton Arena 77-70, having five double-digit scorers, including a 22-point performance from Adrienne Motley. The 49ers will need to find new scorers to provide for them this time against Miami, with graduated players Kira Gordan and Alexis Alexander combining for 41 points in the loss last year.
Charlotte’s hot start
Defense is something that head coach Cara Consuegra has emphasized early and often in press conferences, trying to create a new identity to a team that allowed 71.2 points per game last season.
“That’s something that we’ve been working on,” Consuegra said about the Charlotte defense. “We knew we just had to be focused on our principles defensively so that’s great ball pressure, communicating, calling out screens. Our players have bought into becoming a defensive team.”
Leading the defensive charge for Charlotte are Lefty Webster, Kenya Olley and Nyila Jamison-Myers. Webster, beginning her senior season, already has nine steals through the two Niner wins, with two other ladies on the team with at least four. Jamison-Myers, a transfer from Clemson, has already picked up four blocks, with Olley leading the team with five blocks. With Olley and Jamison-Myers both standing at 6-foot-3, look for the two forwards to remain the best shot-blocking duo in the conference throughout the season.
On offense, the 49ers have two ladies averaging double digits, with Webster leading the way averaging 14.5 points per contest, and three-point specialist Ciara Gregory averaging 14. Gregory has already recorded nine threes on the season while Webster has been making an impact almost all game for Charlotte, averaging 39 minutes per game.
Bench play is always needed for any team that aspires to be taken serious, and that is exactly what the 49ers have had lately. Redshirt freshman Dara Pearson showed out in the game against Charleston, dropping 13 points, shooting 6-of-8 from the field. Amaya Ransom has also made an impact off the bench for coach Consuegra, as the junior guard from Virginia Beach added in seven points and nine rebounds against their win against Wisconsin.
For the 49ers to take down a solid ACC team in Miami, look for the presence of Olley and Jamison-Myers in the paint to play a big factor in the outcome, with Miami sending out a rather big lineup every time they step on the court.
The Hurricanes average 71.5 points a game, while already facing a ranked opponent in No.19 Kentucky, losing that ball game 82-66. Miami defeated Albany 77-53 on the road, so the game Wednesday night against the Niners will be their first home game of the 2016-2017 season.
The Hurricanes have a high-powered offense that they have displayed in their first couple games, having a plethora of ladies that they can go to score the rock. Motley, a 5-foot-9 senior, leads the team in scoring, averaging 12.5 points per game. Motley also tops the team from downtown, connecting on a team-high seven threes. Senior Jessica Thomas is second on the team in scoring with 10.5 points a game, with Erykah Davenport and Nigia Greene adding in 10 points per game.
Although they can score the ball well, the Hurricanes are allowing 67.5 points a game, with their 48 turnovers not helping out the cause.
The Hurricanes are coached by Katie Meier who is in her 11th season with the program, making the NCAA tournament five out of the last six years.