Charlotte begins a two-game home stand against the Marshall Thundering Herd (7-8, 2-1) after a three-game road trip that resulted in one win and two losses.
“Obviously, we’re in the thick of our conference schedule, and our conference record is 1-2,” Charlotte Head Coach Cara Consuegra said. “But the truth is that we’ve done a lot of things right, so I don’t want to dwell on the fact that we’re three games in and we only have one win. Our focus is on the fact that we’re a really good team and that we’ve done a lot of things.”
The Thundering Herd offense, led by freshman guard Savannah Wheeler, focuses on spreading the floor and shooting from behind the arc. Marshall has attempted a Conference USA high of 349 three-point shots. The Thundering Herd connects from three at a 31.2 percent clip, good for fourth in the C-USA. The primary offensive cogs of the Marshall offense are Wheeler and Kristen Mayo, who average 12.5 and 10.9 points per game, respectively.
However, averaging 2.5 and 2.3 assists per game, respectively, Wheeler and Mayo are also capable of impacting the game through passing the ball. The main recipients of Wheeler and Mayo’s passes are sharp-shooting stretch-forwards Khadaijia Brooks and Taylor Pearson. Brooks and Pearson average a combined 35.2 percent from beyond the arc. Charlotte forwards Jade Phillips and Dara Pearson, who typically defend post players, will need to adjust and be comfortable defending on the perimeter against the spread-out Thundering Herd offense.
“Jade can be better defensively. As stellar as she can be on offense, there are times where she as not as locked in as we need her to be [on defense],” Consuegra said. “But all of our guards are good defenders. Chrisitan Hithe, that’s her job: to be the best on-ball defender on our team and to guard the best scorer on the opposing team.”
Anticipate Phillips, who is currently second in the C-USA in rebounds per game with 10 rpg, and tenacious rebounding forward Dara Pearson to give the 49ers a significant rebounding edge over a Marshall starting lineup that only features one player over six-foot.
On defense, the Thundering Herd plays a similarly effective brand of basketball as the 49ers. In fact, Marshall’s 61.7 points per game allowed to opponents ranks fourth in the C-USA.
Current C-USA block leader Ashley Saintigene leads the Thundering Herd’s defense. Saintigene is also tied for No. 13 in the nation for total blocked shots while the Thundering Herd are tied for No. 20 in the nation. Anticipate three-point shooters Mariah Linney and Christian Hithe to see an increased volume of three-point attempts in an effort to avoid Saintigene.
“Christian Hithe has really turned it on leading into conference play and during conference play,” Consuegra said. “That could be a surprise to outsiders, but I knew this type of production and consistency was coming.”
Tip-off for the 49ers’ game against Marshall is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16 in Halton Arena.