Charlotte (12-13, 8-4 C-USA) women’s basketball continued its late season run, winning its league-best fifth-in-a-row by knocking off Conference USA leader UAB (21-3, 10-1 C-USA), 80-71.
The 49ers had three players in double figures. Nyilah Jamison-Myers led with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking five shots. Laia Raventos came close to a triple-double again with 17 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals. Octavia Wilson scored 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.
Although having an impressive offensive showing, Wilson’s biggest contribution may have been her defense shutting down UAB’s leading scorer Rachel Childress. Childress was limited to five points, only one three-pointer, and two free throws in 34 minutes for her second lowest scoring output of the year and fewest in conference action.
“Childress is maybe the best shooter I have seen all year, we obviously came into this game very concerned about her and we made the decision to put Octavia on her and just told her to stick with her and don’t let her get any touches and I just thought she put forth an incredible performance,” Head coach Cara Consuegra said.
UAB’s Deanna Kuzmanic led all scorers with 23 points on 10-of-18 from the field. Kara Rawls had a double-double of 11 points and 17 rebounds.
Wilson started the Niners off hot by scoring the first six points to keep the 49ers close. Katelynn Thomas put UAB ahead 9-6 at the 6:24 mark, but Raventos converted on three straight possessions for the 49ers to give Charlotte a 12-11 lead with 5:20 remaining in the first quarter. The back-and-forth battle continued as Jamison-Myers layup got the lead back for the 49ers, 17-15. Jaida Robinson hit a layup with 19 seconds remaining to give Charlotte a 19-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The score continued to go back-and-forth between the two teams, changing the lead on every possession in the first 4:30. Raventos then made a game-changing three-pointer at 5:30, to give the Niners the lead back 26-24 and the 49ers led the rest of the way. Wilson hit a jumper that extended the Niners lead 30-26 with 3:02 remaining. Lea Kerstein stopped the 49ers push with a three, followed by a Kuzmanic layup and the Blazers cut the halftime deficit to three, 34-31.
Jamison-Myers scored on the first possession of the third quarter and Charlotte went on a run to start the second half. Four different players scored in an 11-3 run as the 49ers built a 47-34 lead with 5:43 remaining. Childress finally scored with two free throws at the 5:30 mark. That started a 7-0 UAB run, ending on a Kuzmanic three, closing the gap to 47-41 with 4:02 remaining. The 49ers called a timeout to try and stop the Blazers run. Out of the timeout, the Niners went to Jamison-Myers and she converted on a jumper. Wilson knocked down a three-pointer to make it a nine-point game with 2:15 remaining. It started a 7-2 Charlotte surge, extending the lead back to double figures, but Kerstein closed the quarter with a three and the 49ers lead was eight, 56-48, heading into the fourth quarter.
Jamison-Myers started the fourth quarter with a layup to give Charlotte a ten-point edge again, 58-48. An Imani Johnson three-point play cut it back to seven but Mariah Linney and Jamison-Myers both made layups and the 49ers were up 11, 62-51, with 7:27 to go. Kuzmanic registered four points in a 9-0 run that included Childress’ only three-pointer, and the Charlotte lead was cut to two, 64-62, with 4:04 remaining. Linney and Wilson made three pointers to extend the 49ers lead to seven, 70-63, with 1:34 remaining. Charlotte was clutch down the stretch from the foul line, converting on 10-of-10 to seal the victory.
“Just another tremendous defensive performance. To see this team put together back to back games of almost perfect execution of our game plan is what I am most proud about. I thought we did just about everything right defensively and it was a team effort,” Consuegra said.
The 49ers will play their last regular season road game against Western Kentucky on Friday. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.