The 10-7 Charlotte 49ers (2-3 C-USA) took a tough loss this Thursday on a road trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The 49ers matched up with the 8-9 Golden Eagles (1-4 C-USA) for a low scoring, low shooting night that allowed both teams to fight blow-for-blow in the paint. The 49ers were led by freshman guard Octavia Jett-Willson who put up 13 points along with five boards and six dimes. Jett-Wilson also had help from senior point guard Laia Raventós who put up double digit points along with some key “off ball” plays that set the 49ers up for success. Redshirt junior Jade Phillips also made her presence known with nine points along with five dimes.
The first quarter of play was defined by stops and heavy energy. On the other side of play, defense seemed to be the name of the game. Senior PG Raventós busted the cap for the 49ers, draining a triple with the quiet confidence only she can bring to a game. The 49ers reacted to their floor general by following suit with a key bucket from freshman forward Jazmin Harris and a free throw from Lauren Harley. Harris would collect two more key boards for the 49ers before The Golden Eagles would find a groove off of a Kelsey Jones layup. The 49ers would fight to kill the Southern Mississippi groove for a few grueling minutes, but the Golden Eagles would collect over six key points, allowing them to set a strong pace in front of the 49ers. Harris, again, would bring life to the Niners with a big time steal with 4:00 to play and then a jumper a few plays down; however, it would not be enough. The 49ers would spend the rest of the quarter missing the mark with long twos and a couple of triples, but it would be Jett-Wilson in the clutch who would put the 49ers within one to close the quarter. The Charlotte 49ers would enter the second quarter trailing 11-12.
The 49ers would sit in a scoring drought until the 6:56 mark in the quarter. Harris, again, would be the one to bring the defibrillator to the chest of her teammates and spur them to action. Meanwhile, Southern Miss’ Allie Kennedy and Megan Brown would pad the Golden Eagle lead. A jumper from Jett-Wilson would show signs of hope, but the 49ers wouldn’t see another bucket until the 2:53 mark. A free throw off a foul from Harris would put the Golden Eagles up 23-17. The first half of play would come to a close with a mid-range jumper from Shonte Hailes, putting Southern Miss up 25-17 entering the second.
Both teams would step into the third quarter hot and wasting no time. A jumper from Amber Landing would be immediately followed by a long two ball from Phillips. Megan Brown would immediately follow with one of her own, but a foul from Landing would see Phillips knock down two free shots. Jett-Wilson would “put the team on her back” and score the next few 49er points while collecting a few boards. A clutch three from Mariah Linney would tie the game at 31 with 5:39 left to play. A jumper from Shonte Hailes would push Mississippi forward, but a bucket from Ka’neeshia Brown in the paint would tie the game again. Another jumper from Megan Brown would give the momentum in favor of the Golden Eagles. The 49ers would not be able to keep up for the rest of the quarter. Mississippi would close the third 42-35.
The gap would continue to widen in the fourth quarter of play, reaching a 12 point deficit as the Golden Eagles continued to ride their wave of energy. Head Coach Cara Consuegra would use a timeout to try and stop the Mississippi momentum. Fortunately, for the 49ers, it did. The plan would lead to a Christian Hithe three out of the break. A stand still from both teams would ensue until a key bucket from Phillips would break the dam. Charlotte, though, would not be able to hold their own as the Golden Eagles begin to find their groove once again. The quarter would be closed 23-19 with Charlotte trailing.
“I thought we did enough defensively tonight to win this game, but the offensive struggles hurt us.” said Consuegra, post-game.
When asked about the mindset walking into another tough battle on the road, this is what she had to say, “We can’t hang our heads, we don’t have time. That’s how this league works. We’ve got to have a short memory.”
The 49ers will travel to Louisiana and take on LA Tech this Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3 pm.