The Charlotte 49ers host the 1-4 Fordham Rams looking for their fifth straight win of the season. The Rams enter the matchup coming off their first victory of the season, a 74-58 win over Northeastern.
“They’re (Fordham) challenging in that they run a lot of different stuff,” said Charlotte Head Coach Cara Consuegra. “They have versatile kids at every position. They present some different challenges then we’ve seen in some other games.”
Freshman starting point guard Anna DeWolfe runs the majority of the Rams’ three-point centric offense, which has attempted the 18th most three-point shots in the nation with 131. DeWolfe and the Rams boast a quality .97 turnover to assist ratio. DeWolfe has a team-high 18 assists over five games; she also has 13 turnovers. The 49ers enter the matchup forcing 18.8 turnovers per game.
On offense, DeWolfe and the Rams primarily get the ball to backcourt partners Bre Cavanaugh and Kendell Heremaia, who average 15 and 12.8 points per game, respectively. As a career 35 percent shooter from three-point range, Heremaia presents a more prominent three-point shooting threat than Cavanaugh, who relies more upon her ability to make contested shots in the paint and draw free throw attempts.
Cavanaugh and Heremaia are not the only Rams capable of stuffing the stat sheet. However, as DeWolfe garners the teams’ third-highest point per game average 11.6 points per contest.
Charlotte has a deep stable of perimeter defensive stalwarts such as Christian Hithe, Jade Phillips and Lauren Harley who are capable of limiting the Rams’ backcourt trio. Currently, the 49ers only allow opponents to shoot 30.8 percent from beyond the arc and allow a stifling 32.8 field goal percentage to opponents. Additionally, the 49ers have proven their ability to limit sound perimeter scores by holding East Carolina’s Raven Johnson, who averages 12.5 points per game, to five points, and by limiting Gardner Webb’s Carley Plentovich, who averages 10 points per game, to four points. Forward Katilyn Downey, who averages 10.6 points per game, rounds out the Rams’ top scorers. A key matchup during this game will be Dara Pearson against Downey in the paint.
Cavanaugh, Heremaia, DeWolfe and Downey round out the Rams’ scorers as the next highest scorer on the team averages 4.8 points per game. If the 49ers can limit the Rams’ top-four scorers and force the rest of the Rams’ offensive players to produce, it could be a long game for Fordham.
Fordham has been susceptible, particularly in the paint, on defense. Through five games, the Rams have only blocked five shots. Additionally, the Rams allow an atrocious 46.9 percent field goal percentage to opposing offenses. In part, opponents’ high field goal percentage may be due to the Rams’ inability to rebound well, as the Rams rank 244th in the nation with a -2.8 rebound margin. With a clear size advantage, the 49ers should dominate the glass in this matchup as they have all season by attaining a +7.8 rebounding margin. Anticipate interior-oriented players such as Jazmin Harris and Jade Phillips to see a high volume of shots against the Rams’ porous paint defense.
The Rams also struggle to force turnovers as they average only 15.8 forced turnovers per game. Charlotte sophomore starting point guard Jada McMillian should bounce back against the Rams after registering an eight-turnover performance against East Carolina.
Another advantage the 49ers have over the Rams is rest as the 49ers were able to get a full week of practice and recovery.
“I always love it in season when we get multiple practice days because we can spend time focusing on ourselves prior to preparing for the next opponent,” said Consuegra. “We had a couple of good practices where we were able to clean up some things that we saw from our previous games and get better.”
Tip-off for the 49ers matchup against the Fordham Rams is scheduled for 1 p.m.