Niners huddle before a free throw. Photo by Andrea Badillo-Perez

The Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team won in dominating fashion at home against the Wofford Terriers on Sunday, Nov. 11, outscoring the visitors 85-63 to improve to 2-0 on the season.

The team was led by Jazmin Harris, who recorded 19 points, five rebounds and a block. The freshman recorded double figures for the second time in the second game of her career. Also notable was Laia Raventós, who led the team in minutes with 29 while recording 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the process, and Mariah Linney, whose nine points from deep sparked the offense multiple times on the night.

The team would struggle at the beginning of the game, finding themselves down 19-25 at the beginning of the second period. The Terriers shot 10-18 from the field whilst Charlotte struggled to play defense.

But after a few momentum-swinging plays, the team would find their stride in the second quarter and would begin to build a lead.

“We started really strong against Asheville and we were the complete opposite [in the first quarter against Wofford],” said Head Coach Cara Consuegra. “I was really just disappointed with our focus and urgency on defense. Obviously, I got on them pretty hard about that and the response was significant.”

It started when guard Lauren Harley scored on a lone fastbreak versus two defenders to make it 21-25. After a Wofford goal, the Niners would hit two threes in a row by way of Jade Phillips and Linney. Harley would then record a large block before Phillips would hit another big three, making it an 11-0 run in the last two minutes. Wofford would also shoot 2-11 in that span. At the half, the Niners would be up 43-34.

In the second half, the team’s star freshman would begin to shine. Harris went 3-5 for eight points in the first half, but began to heat up in the third quarter as she would score five more times and record a block. After the game, Coach Consuegra mentioned it was an emphasis to get her going this week.

“After the Asheville game, we talked about wanting to get Jazz more touches – we didn’t feel like we got her enough touches in the game. So, we watched some film and talked about it the last few days, and I just felt the team did a good job getting her the ball,” said Consuegra. “We knew Wofford was going to play behind in the post, which they did, and so that gave us the opportunity to get her the touches we want, so once she comes into the game and starts making shots, we’re going to keep giving her the ball.”

Harris was also content with her performance in the game.

“It’s a great feeling to know that I can come in here and work for my team. My role is to come in here, score and get rebounds and that’s what I’m going to do. My teammates were finding me the ball, and when they give me the ball I’m going to score, because that’s my role on this team. And tonight they did a good job,” said Harris.

Another emphasis for Coach Consuegra this season is finding and embracing players’ roles this season. The team has started at its highest level since 2016, the last year they started 2-0, and coach Consuegra believes it has to do with the roles that the team has determined.

“A lot of our players understand their role at a higher level than maybe they normally would [at this point], and I think that’s part of why we’ve seen more success over these first two games. We have players doing what they are supposed to be whether that’s rebounding, scoring, being a playmaker or being a defender. They know specifically what their roles are and they are executing very well,” said Consuegra.

That helped the 49ers not only get back into the game on Sunday, but to take it over and dominate the opponent for the rest of the game. Harris would continue to wreak havoc in the paint, Raventós would record a step-back three-pointer after shaking her opponent off balance, and Rinnah Green would check into the game and immediately beat the defense on a two-versus-one fast break, ensuring everyone for the Niners were having fun by the end of the game.

“I think the bench is a luxury for us. What I like is if we have a player that’s maybe not playing well or doing what she is supposed to do, we can just send someone in. I felt like Mo and Christian [Hithe] were significant for us off the bench, but I thought our starters did really well too. They were the ones that responded when I got on them. They came out and were able to get the stops we needed, and I think that’s the biggest thing we learned, that things aren’t going to be easy,” said Consuegra. “Let’s just be honest, in some ways that Asheville game was easy due to the way we started – this game was not, in terms of the first quarter. We learned that when things aren’t easy we have to make adjustments, and make a choice. That’s what I told them. Playing defense is a choice, and they made that choice to play defense and it completely changes a game.”

The 49ers will be playing Rutgers at home Friday, Nov. 6 at 5:00 p.m.

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