Ciara Gregory pulling up for a three. Photo by Ben Coon
Ciara Gregory pulling up for a three. Photo by Ben Coon

Lefty Webster dropped 20 points and nine rebounds, senior Ciara Gregory added 17 in her homecoming game, and the Charlotte 49ers used a high scoring second half to deal the Pittsburgh Panthers their second straight home loss, 70-63. The Panthers (6-2), who have played all their games at home so far this season, held Charlotte (5-3) to only nine second quarter points, but gave up a seven-point halftime lead and couldn’t contain the Niners in the second half.

The 49ers once again used balanced scoring to their advantage. Leading scorer Grace Hunter struggled from the field, but other players stepped up to lead Charlotte offensively. Webster added four assists and three blocks to her all-around effort, while point guard Laia Raventos contributed 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. Redshirt freshman Jaida Robinson had a career-high seven points and four rebounds off the bench, which was key for the 49ers. The Panthers actually doubled Charlotte’s bench production (28-14), but their bench players shot the ball poorly. Freshman Alayna Gribble (14 points, 5-16 FG, 4-13 3FG) led the Panthers’ bench, but they shot a combined 9-for-32 from the field (28 percent).

“That’s what makes this team so special,” Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said. “Anybody can have their moment on any night, and they support each other. It’s not about one of us, it’s about all of us.” It’s fun to coach a team like that because you know we have so many weapons that can contribute.”

After storming out to a 19-12 advantage at the conclusion of the first quarter, the 49ers struggled mightily in the second. Charlotte struggled from the field and only managed nine points during the frame. They missed six straight shots at one point and didn’t score again until Robinson knocked down two free throws at the 3:33 mark. Thanks to Raventos’ lone three-pointer, Charlotte was only down seven at halftime, 35-28.

However, in the second half, it was the Panthers who had trouble scoring the ball. Pitt’s leading scorer Brenna Wise, who had 10 points at the half, only scored two in the second half thanks to foul trouble. Meanwhile, second leading scorer Brandi Harvey-Carr shot 1-for-5 before fouling out, and Gribble shot 2-f0r-8 in the second half. Pitt’s third leading scorer, Aysia Bugg, also went cold and shot 1-for-7 from the field in the second half. The Panthers finished the game shooting 20-64 (31.3 percent) for the game, and only managed 28 total second half points.

The 49ers held the edge in fastbreak points (13-5), second chance points (11-2), and points off turnovers (26-18). The Niners also scored 27 points in the paint to Pitt’s 18, and committed two

Jaida Robinson looking to pass the ball at the top of the key. Photo by Ben Coon
Jaida Robinson looking to pass the ball at the top of the key. Photo by Ben Coon

less turnovers than the Panthers. The team communicated and stuck to their keys to the game, attacked relentlessly, got the Panthers into foul trouble and came away victorious. The Niners used 20-plus point quarters to pull away in the second half.

“We came out in the first quarter and played great. Second quarter was complete opposite. We played really horrendous, honestly,” Consuegra said. “We could’ve hung our heads; we chipped away, were able to only be down seven at halftime. We went in, regrouped and our kids just stayed tough. They stayed resilient. They believe in each other, and I’m just really excited about the direction we’re moving right now.”

Charlotte will play one more game in Pittsburgh before heading home. The 49ers will face the Duquesne Dukes on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. The game will be Charlotte’s last one in Pennsylvania before heading home, and will serve as a rematch between the former league opponents.

Zach Timmons, better known as ZT, is a junior at UNC Charlotte. He is an English major and is also minoring in journalism. In his free time, ZT enjoys writing spoken word poetry, drawing, and making beats.