Charlotte women's basketball fell to Massachusetts in the WNIT consolation bracket, officially ending their season on Saturday. The team lost 81-75 to UMASS in a game that fluctuated from a 5-10 point lead for most of the second half.
"Today, we just didn't quite have it in the tank," said Head Coach Cara Consuegra after the game. "These kids gave Charlotte everything they had and we should all be really proud of their effort and the fight that they sustained throughout the entire season."
Despite only playing 17 minutes due to foul trouble, senior guard Octavia Jett-Wilson led the team scoring 16 points on 5-12. She was a perfect 5-5 from the free-throw line in the game. Even though four 49er players were in double figures, it was not enough to outscore the Minutewomen.
The 49ers got off to a good start in the first half until Jett-Wilson picked up her second foul with just over three minutes to play in the first quarter. With her on the bench, it was on Jada McMillian and Mariah Linney's shoulders to lead their team. McMillian finished the game with 15 points and Linney added 13.
Molina Williams added 15 points on an efficient 6-11 shooting performance. Dara Pearson and Jacee Busick added nine and six points, respectively. UMASS went on a run to end the half and took a 13 point lead into the halftime break.
Coming out of the half, the 49ers had a chip on their shoulder. They tied the game at 40 in the third quarter but could never take the lead. With just under a minute to go, Linney hit a three, cutting the Minutewomen lead down to five. The team continued to fight down the stretch but could not capitalize on the offensive end.
With two free throws by UMASS, the lead grew to six and the 49ers season came to an end. They finished with a 10-12 record after two close WNIT losses to Florida and UMASS.
"We knew what we needed to do. It's just our energy wasn't there," said McMillian.
Despite the loss and the season ending, coach Consuegra commended her players to battle the entire season and came together as a team.
"They stuck by me. They fought for me through all the adversity, the distractions, and covid," said Consuegra. "At the end of the day, we really came together and we became a family. We had each other's back and we fought for each other."
It is uncertain what Mariah Linney, Octavia Jett-Wilson and Dara Pearson will do yet. With the NCAA giving every athlete an extra year of eligibility, these three could choose to exercise this option but neither player has made an official decision about their future.
What is certain is that Jada McMillian will return for the 49ers for her senior season. The team will also return two All-Conference USA Freshman Team players in Jacee Busick and Molina Williams. The 49ers will also bring in some stellar high school players that should immediately impact the team.
The team is in good hands, and head coach Cara Consuegra is optimistic about her team's future. Consuegra has said many times, "the future is bright."