The Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team (10-8) will face off against The University of Texas at San Antonio (6-11) at home on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at Halton Arena.

UTSA will travel 1,260 miles for the matchup on Thursday against the Charlotte 49ers in a game that will likely be a close one. If all goes well for the home team, the Roadrunners’ trip back home will be a long one.

Both teams are currently on a two-game slide as Charlotte lost to C-USA opponents Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss by an average of three points. Meanwhile, UTSA lost to C-USA opponents Middle Tennessee and UAB by an average of five points.

Statistically, the teams match up well. UTSA averages 60 points per game, while Charlotte averages 63.

But the Niners are likely favored at home for a couple of reasons: history is on the home team’s side as Charlotte is 4-1 in their five matchups in the past five years since their entrance to C-USA in the 2013-2014 season and they average 11 points over the opponent in their four victories. UTSA is also 1-4 while playing away while the 49ers are 8-1 at home.

The Roadrunners are 6-11 in Head Coach Kristen Holt’s second season with the team. Holt saw moderate success in her first season in 2017, leading the team to a 9-21 record (6-10 C-USA) and to the second round of the conference tournament for the first time since the team’s 2013-2014 season. The team has struggled as of recent, however, going 1-4 in the month of January.

UTSA is also having a down-year in field goal percentage, shooting just 38 percent from the floor to Charlotte’s 41 percent. The Roadrunners are led by Junior Forward Marie Benson, who leads the team in field goals (16.8 ppg), rebounds (11.6 rpg) and steals (1.5 per game) on 31.8 minutes per game.

Charlotte is led by Redshirt Junior Guard Jade Phillips who averages 12.1; 7.3 and 1.1 points in rebounds and steals, respectively.

The Niners have also had a tough stretch in January, going 2-4 since the start of the month. The team is coming off the heels of a tough loss vs. Louisiana Tech in which the team lost by 37 points. After outscoring the visitors by six in the first quarter, the team would quickly lose control of the game, being outscored 75 to 32 in the final two quarters. In the fourth quarter, the team would muster only seven points.

A common theme for losses in the season is the home team was hounded under the glass, being outrebounded 32-50, allowing Bulldogs’ Junior Bright Grayson to grab ten total rebounds in the game. In losses, Charlotte averages eight less rebounds than their opponent. In wins, the team averages plus four.

The team also allowed 30 points off turnovers — almost the difference of the lead. The team was also heavily outscored on the bench with a 19 point difference between the two teams.

It’s clear that if the Niners want to win the game, they will have to out-muscle the Roadrunners from the start. If the team can control the glass, limit turnovers and play strong transitional defense, the team will be able to pull off the win. The bench will also need to step up production as the team continues down the stretch of the season if they hope to turn around their January drought.

The game vs. UTSA offers the perfect opportunity to turn it around, and shutting downBenson will be a large point of emphasis. The leader of the Roadrunners will be tough to stop, but it will be pivotal in winning the game.

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