Kennedy Hehr


Charlotte falls to Clemson in a close one

As the 49ers took on the Clemson Tigers in SC on Monday, Feb. 18, Charlotte looked to increase their record to 4-0.

Charlotte was scoreless the first five innings while Clemson racked up six runs, three of which were home runs and one added two RBIs. The tiger defense was hard to get by in order for the 49ers to score. Furthermore, the Clemson offense was unstoppable as well. Not only were the first five innings scoreless for the Niners, but second through the fifth saw three batters up and three down before you knew it.

The top of the sixth inning got something going for Charlotte, due to an RBI from Drew Ober to get Patrick Wheeler past home plate to put their first run on the board. While two 49ers got hit by pitches in the sixth, it was worth the pain to get some guys on base and in scoring position. A double down the third base line from Harris Yett gave him an RBI which resulted in Ober scoring. Rafi Vazquez singled up the middle which allowed for two RBIs after Yett and Johnson crossed home plate. There were two pitching changes for Clemson to see if someone could stop the scoring run from Charlotte. A great inning for the 49ers offense got them right back in the game at 4-6, while their defense kept Clemson from scoring.

At the top of the seventh, Todd Elwood came in to pinch hit for Jake Whitcomb. He bunted to get on first, then advanced to second after a throwing error by Clemson pitcher and Wheeler scored to put the score at 5-6.

The score remained the same until the bottom of the eighth when Clemson OF Bryce Teodosio homered to left off Charlotte pitcher Carson Pinkney. The 49ers defense got out of that inning with only one run scored.

In Charlotte’s last chance to win the game, the top of the ninth was interesting. After Wheeler got hit by a pitch, he advanced to second shortly after. Austin Lynch then doubled to right center to get Wheeler in to score, 6-7. With two outs, and a 2-2 count, Ober struck out swinging to end the game and give Charlotte their first loss.

The next game will be on Friday, Feb. 22 against Canisius at 3 p.m. at Hayes Stadium.

Niners go 1-1 at Gamecock Invitational

The 49ers headed to Columbia, SC for their second set of road games, seeking some wins at the Gamecock Invitational to improve their 2-5 record so far.

Game 1: Charlotte 6, Ohio 8 

On Sunday, Feb. 17 at 4 p.m., the 49ers took on Ohio University. It was a rough start, but Charlotte would not go down without a fight. Ohio put the beginning point on the board in the first inning while Charlotte didn’t put up their first run until the third. The scoring run came from Kiersten Berrier on an RBI from Meredith Harris. In the top of the fifth and bottom of the sixth, it was all Ohio pulling away, adding seven points to the board.

The first six innings were all Ohio with eight runs scored and only two from Charlotte. With Ohio batting in the top of the seventh, Charlotte defense kept them from scoring any more. In their final chance to tie or go for the win, Charlotte came back fighting. Jude McGough racked up an RBI to get Lizzy Birch to score.

Getting towards the bottom of the batting order, freshman Raegan Thompson walked to load the bases for senior, Emma Ocker, up next. Ocker had two RBIs to get McGough and Doty through home plate, making the score 5-8. Bases were loaded again after a bunt from Berrier, which ultimately led to Harris putting Ocker on third and Thompson scoring.

Following an exciting seventh inning for Charlotte’s offense, the 49ers fell to Ohio 8-6.

Game 2: Charlotte 10, Campbell 4

Charlotte hoped to bounce back after a loss for their 6 p.m. game against Campbell, the school that sophomore, Katie Manring, transferred from.

After a scoreless first inning, Charlotte and Campbell were split at 1-1 after the third. In the fourth, Campbell scored three to put the Niners down 4-1. With two on base, Imani Rochelle singled to first while racking up an RBI after Berrier scored. Birch then doubled down the left field line to advance Rochelle to third and have Harris score. Manring was next up to bat with a groundout and RBI. Following this, an RBI from Bailey Vannoy gave Birch the opportunity to score which gave the 49ers the lead, 5-4.

In the 49ers final series at bat in the top of the seventh, they scored four more runs to increase their lead to 10-4. Runs were scored by Vannoy and Manning with two RBIs from Doty. A triple from Ocker then racked up two more runs.

After Campbell’s last at-bat, they could not reach the 49ers which resulted in a final score of 10-4.

The Niners will be back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. against UNC Greensboro.

Niners struggle on the road and dominate at home

Most teams would say it’s harder to play on the road. You don’t have your fans, the comfort of your own court, and other factors that can play a role, but you have to find a way to win. The Charlotte women’s basketball team would agree. Is it because of the fan base? Offense? Defense?

With a dominant home record of 11-2 in Halton Arena, the team struggles on the road at 1-9. Some of the road losses in the beginning were by a larger margin than anyone would have wanted. As the season has been underway, the team has been producing more offensively and been more aggressive defensively, resulting in closer scoring games.

While averaging 62.5 points a game offensively, that puts Charlotte at No. 9 in Conference USA. On the other side of the ball, they jump three spots to No. 6 on the defensive scoring list. The average shooting percentage for the 49ers is .412; their home percentage is .388 while their road percentage is higher at .394. Jade Phillips is No. 14 in CUSA with 103 FG with Mariah Linney and Laia Raventós not far behind.

However, the 49ers are at a constant battle to get some three-pointers to fall while on the road at away games. Their three-point percentage at home is .423 while their away percentage is .255. With the difference of three-point percentage being .168, this is having an impact on the 49er offense. While Linney is No. 5 in the conference for 3FG with 45 and Raventos is No. 8 with 37, Charlotte is needing more to win in the opponent’s environment. Linney and Raventós are a strong backcourt duo for the 49ers.

The 49er women’s basketball team is young this 2018-19 season and lack some experience. They cannot find a way to play strong all four quarters and close out games on the road, which is one of the things leading to games resulting in losses. The scores are extremely close and often have Charlotte leading at the half. Being able to keep pressure on the opponent and close out games comes with maturity and experience, especially in another team’s gym.

The Charlotte offense could use Octavia Jett-Wilson’s experience right now, especially on the road. She isn’t knocking down free throws the same as last year or delivering in the same form, but there is no doubt that when she gets in her rhythm, she’ll be a big help for the 49ers.

With a dominating record of 10-1 at home, North Texas gave the 49ers their second home loss on Thursday, Feb. 7 with a score of 63-68. Charlotte had the lead early in the third and let it slip away by taking the pressure off North Texas. It’s crucial to play a full 40 minutes in order to win at this level, especially at this point in the season. Every team is playing to put themselves in a good position for the conference tournament, and some are fighting for a spot altogether.

Charlotte came out on top of UAB on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 60-56 which was a huge win for the 49ers. It gave the Niners lots of momentum going into their last couple conference games, two of which are on the road. Jade Phillips is putting up big numbers on both sides of the ball for the 49ers and her experience is helping the team grow. She recorded her second double-double in a row, after 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“I’ve been talking to this team over the last month so much about trying to close the gap from the team that we are to the team that we want to be, and that the gap wasn’t very big,” said Head Coach Cara Consuegra post-UAB win. “Tonight, we closed that gap and we were the team that we can be.”

As Charlotte looks ahead to their last four conference games in regular season play, they need to just “focus on the streaks,” as Coach Consuegra says, especially in the fourth quarter. Also, if they can get some more buckets to fall from behind the arc on the road, they should see themselves coming out on top. Another key is to keep the pressure on all 40 minutes and close at the end.

The Niners have two home and two away games left before they head to the conference tournament in Frisco, Texas. Consuegra and her staff will continue to prepare their team as best they can in hopes their girls follow the game plan and get as many wins as possible until the season comes to a close.

The 49ers will host ODU on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m.

Niners take down UAB in a thriller

Both teams are 16-16 when they’ve met. The 49er women’s basketball team looked to top the UAB Blazers in their 33rd face off and improve their C-USA record to 5-7 and home record to 11-2.

Laia Raventós scored the first bucket for the Niners by driving in the paint. Jade Phillips started off aggressive on both sides of the ball. UAB led the entire first quarter after Charlotte tied four times. UAB established several players in the first quarter which made Charlotte’s defense work hard to stay in it. The first quarter ended with a score of 12-14 after a layup at the buzzer from Phillips.

Charlotte struggled through the first half of the second quarter to get a lead. Freshman Jada McMillan played the entire second quarter. After 13 minutes of play, Phillips had 10 points and eight rebounds. Late in the second, Raventós was sent to the line for the first 49ers free throws of the game and made both shots to tie the score 26-26. The half ended at 28-28 after a drained shot by Raventós. The third quarter was point for point until Charlotte broke away after a jumper from McMillan to make the score 43-36.

After starting down two in the fourth at 44-46, Charlotte would not let UAB get too far away. The first three-pointer of the game for the 49ers came with 7:29 left and gave Charlotte all the momentum they needed to finish strong. The 49ers defense was tremendous in the fourth quarter, holding UAB’s field goal percentage to 27%. Phillips drained back to back threes resulting in a 58-55 lead for the 49ers. With 11 seconds left, the 49ers took a timeout while they were up 58-56. After a foul on Hithe, she drained both free throws to put the lead to four which resulted in the final score being 60-56 and a thrilling win over UAB for the 49ers.

Jade Phillips ended with 20 points and 12 rebounds for her second double-double game in a row.

“I’ve been talking to this team so much about trying to close the gap from the team that we are to the team that we want to be,” said Coach Consuegra. “Every game and every set back is helping us [and] I thought today [that] we closed that gap.”

The 49ers will host ODU on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. in Halton Arena.

Returning to his roots

Born and raised in Asheville, NC, Jordan Shepherd has returned to his home state to become a Charlotte 49er. The son of Kimberly Green and Charles Shepherd and brother of Londyn has been one heck of a basketball star since the age of three. With a clear passion for the game, Shepherd stuck with the sport of basketball all his life.

Jordan Shepherd attended Asheville Christian Academy and played for Coach Andy Ray. During the 2015-16 season, he was named the Carolina’s Athletic Association’s Player of the Year as a senior. How can you not earn that honor when you average 19.2 points, 5.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game? He was also named to the NCISAA 2-A All-State team. His junior year of high school, he was offered by Charlotte to come play with the men’s basketball program.

Being the great player that he is, he had many other offers and he had to consider his options. Shepherd originally committed to James Madison, but he decided to open his recruitment following a coaching change announcement. After his AAU and senior season had come to a close, he was being recruited by a top ranked program, Oklahoma University in Norman. Shortly after, he ended up committing to be a Sooner.

Shepherd saw action in 59 games in two-years at Oklahoma with four career starts. He averaged 3.2 points during his OU career and added five double-digit scoring games. On Dec. 17, 2016, he tallied a career-high 18 points against Memphis. When Oklahoma played Rhode Island in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, Shepherd saw his last 10 minutes of action as a Sooner and drained both of his field goal attempts.

Following his sophomore season at Oklahoma University, he decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal. OU did not seem to be the right fit for Shepherd as it was too far from home for the North Carolina native. He realized after two years that he wanted to pursue other options and see what other opportunities were out there for him. Shepherd stated that Coach Ron Sanchez was recruiting him while he was still the coach at the University of Virginia before he knew he received the job as the head coach at Charlotte.

They built a good relationship during the process of Coach Sanchez’s school change and Shepherd’s transfer process. When Sanchez got the job at Charlotte, Jordan committed to be a 49er. One of the reasons he picked Charlotte was for the opportunity to lead a young team and reach his own maximum potential at the same time.

“Jordan is an outstanding addition to the Niners basketball family,” Sanchez said. “His playing experience at the highest level of college basketball will add maturity to our first incoming class. His leadership and character are invaluable qualities that will assist our program greatly.”

Another reason for making the switch to Charlotte was because it is only a two-hour commute to his hometown. He likes having the ability to go home to see family and friends on the free weekends he has available.

“It has been great; I love the city, my team and being around people here in Charlotte.” said Shepherd.

Even though Shepherd is a junior and lives with upperclassmen, he really clicked with the freshmen when he first came in. That’s not abnormal as a transfer because everyone is entering into a new environment and learning how to adapt.

A lot of things solidified his stance in knowing he made the right decision in coming to Charlotte and playing for Coach Sanchez and his staff.

“Every day. I come into practice every day, and with the things that we do, I’m very sure I made the right decision.” said Shepherd.

Out of all collegiate sports, men’s basketball seems to last the longest. With that being said, the free time may be minimal. Shepherd enjoys working out, reading, watching movies and hanging out with the guys. If you’re looking for a book suggestion, he recommends “The Alchemist.

Per the NCAA rule of sitting out a year after transferring, Shepherd has not been participating in gameplay during the 2018-19 season. He has plenty of goals for next season, individually and collectively for his team as well. He wants to be the best player he can be, be a 50-40-90 guy, as well as earn the honor of being Conference Player of the Year. Shepherd believes in his team right now and for next year, but they lack some maturity. With his knowledge of the game and involvement at the highest level, he will be a great asset in his next two seasons of eligibility. His experience will carry over.

In Conference USA, anybody can win and a ring is on Shepherd’s mind, without a doubt. While being a junior, Shepherd is in a leadership role. Especially with having to sit out, he knows it is his role this season to help the underclassmen get better, while also pushing the older guys as well.

“These young guys, they’re new to the whole college basketball experience so I try to challenge them in different ways every day.” Shepherd said.

The Charlotte 49er men’s basketball team has had a rough season so far and Shepherd is looking forward to getting out there and contributing as much as possible next season. Those who know him know how eager he is to lace up his game shoes and play the sport he loves in front of people. While he is ready to accomplish his goal of joining the 50-40-90 club, he has done a great job in his role on the team this year.

“It’s been really tough, this is the first time in my life where I haven’t been able to play basketball in front of people; had to sit out and had to watch. It’s definitely a burning fire.” said Shepherd.

He is more than ready to take on the 2019-20 basketball season, so do not miss Shepherd in action next basketball season in Halton Arena!

Niners crush the Miners

Going into the match up against UTEP on Saturday evening, the Charlotte Women’s Basketball team looked to break even in conference at 4-4 and they did just that.

UTSA came dressed out with only seven players. The Niners started with aggressive defensive right away, and continued that through the duration of the game. There were multiple contributors, but the stats highlight Mariah Linney with 17 points and Octavia Jett-Wilson with 12. Jett-Wilson started the game off with a steal to make the 49ers score in transition. Following, she pushed the lead to five with a three. To go up double the points in the first quarter, Linney buries a three from downtown to make the score 14-7.

To start off the second quarter, Christian Hithe makes a slick move in the paint to put two up on the board and before you know it, she has a steal and another layup as well. Harris was giving UTEP’s Ariana Taylor all the work in the paint and keeping her scoring to a minimum. Linney made back to back three-pointers to give the 49ers a 20-point lead before half at 37-17.

Charlotte came out on fire again in the second half. Linney continued to drain from outside the arc. After that, the stars of the game connected for a play: Linney to Jett-Wilson for three to make it 43-24. It was all Charlotte in the third quarter and UTEP did not have an answer. Toward end of the third, Linney finished her evening with her third steal and fifth three-pointer to put the Niners ahead of the Miners 26 at 55-29.

Towards the end, the Niners did not let UTEP catch up.

“It is important that we play well and win games by a large margin. Obviously it was a fantastic defensive effort from our team, ” said Coach Consuegra post game.

The final score was 62-39 with the Charlotte 49ers on top. The Niners are now 4-4 in C-USA play and will look for more next week in Texas.

The next game will be on the road at Rice on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m.

Niners cruise past Roadrunners 66-54

The 10-8 Charlotte 49ers broke their two-game losing streak to beat the UTSA Roadrunners at home this Thursday. UTSA gained the opening possession and scored the first two points but Jazmin Harris scored four of the 49er’s first seven points.

Laia Raventós was on fire, and doing it all to keep the Niners on top of the Roadrunners. Evelyn Omemmah and Tija Hawkins were leading scorers for UTSA. The game was point for point with a 17-15 ending of the first quarter. The second quarter started off slow but then things started to heat up for the 49ers.

Christian Hithe subbed in and contributed three rebounds, ones assist and one steal to give Charlotte all the momentum. Two free throws made by Raventós put the 49ers up 25-19 with 4:58 left in the half. An assist from Raventós to Mariah Linney for an easy layup put the Niners up 29-21 just over two minutes before half. UTSA checked the ball in to score two more before the end of the half to make it 35-23.

Niners started off the third quarter with three turnovers to give UTSA a 4-0 scoring run. Head Coach Cara Consuegra called a timeout at 35-27 and right after that, the Niner lead was back to 10 thanks to Linney. All the momentum was back with the Charlotte 49ers after that.

Back to back foul calls on UTSA put the girls in white at the line for scoring opportunities. The Niners’ defense is what allowed so many scoring plays in transition. A diving assist from Raventós to Harris kept the lead at 10 to make the score 47-37, with 1:07 left in the third quarter. The third quarter ended 49-38 with a lot more fouls on Charlotte than in the first half.

Going into the fourth quarter with an 11 point lead, the 49ers continued to rebound and defend well to hold UTSA. The Niners scored again right away to go up 53-42. Before the blink of an eye, the Roadrunners crept back into the game and the score was 53-47. Raventós came in clutch with another diving assist into the chairs to Harris which put the score to 55-47.

After a timeout, Octavia Jett-Wilson made a layup with zero seconds left on the shot clock to put the lead back to 10, yet again. The Niners were aggressive which resulted in more trips to the free throw line, fast-break drives in transition and more defensive plays. The final score was 66-54 and a win for the 49ers.

“The win was important for us, but beyond the winning of the game, we improved in some areas that we really felt we needed to make some progress in,” said Consuegra, post-game.

The 49ers will host UTEP in Halton Arena this Saturday, Jan. 26 at 4 p.m.