The Charlotte women's basketball team is back in the NCAA tournament as they face Indiana in the first round on Saturday, March 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Bloomington, Ind. They earned their spot by winning the Conference USA (C-USA) tournament to clinch an automatic bid. They will be the No. 14 seed in the Bridgeport Region.
This is the 49ers' third appearance in the NCAA tournament, which they last appeared in the 2008-09 season. Head Coach Cara Consuegra reflected on the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.
"We're excited about this opportunity, but we also know that we earned it and belong in the NCAA Tournament, and we're going to go out there and compete and play hard," said Consuegra.
The 49ers ended the season as the C-USA regular-season champions as they finished 15-3 in conference play. Charlotte followed that up by defeating Louisiana Tech 68-63 to claim the C-USA tournament crown.
"We played a tough conference tournament, and the players fought hard…I believe that we played our best second half, and as a coach, you want to get to March and be playing your best basketball," said Consuegra.
The Hoosiers are coming off a Big Ten conference tournament finals loss to Iowa 74-67. They come into the tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Bridgeport Region and will be one of the hosts for the first two rounds.
Coming into this matchup, the Hoosiers averaged 71.8 points per game this season, with the 49ers scoring 63.8 points per game. The 49ers are only giving up 58.2 points per contest, so their defensive presence will be critical.
The 49ers have played against multiple power five schools which means they are no stranger to the spotlight. Consuegra will look to keep her team grounded in the contest.
"We have to treat this like every other game and not get intimidated," said Consuegra.
Players to Watch:
Octavia Jett-Wilson leads the 49ers in scoring with an average of 19.1 points per game. Jett-Wilson, the defending C-USA Player of the Year, was a key piece down the stretch in the conference final, where she finished with 31 points.
Jada McMillian is averaging 8.8 points per game and four assists. She is a 64.7% free-throw shooter, which has been a key for the 49ers all season long.
Indiana's Grace Berger finished with 20 points in the Big Ten tournament final. Berger will look to start hot as she averages 16.3 points per game and 4.9 assists which were both team highs.
Nicole Cardano-Hillary is the top three-point shooter for the Hoosiers. Cardano-Hillary is making 1.6 threes per contest with a 37 percent average beyond the arc.
Looking to gameday:
The No. 14 seed Charlotte will take on the No. 3 Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., at 1:30 p.m in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2, and you can listen live on 730 The Game, ESPN Charlotte.