The Charlotte 49ers women's basketball team gets their first win of the season over the Richmond Spiders on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The 18 point victory gives Head Coach Cara Consuegra her 176th career victory, making her the winningest coach in program history.
"I'm proud of our team," began Consuegra. "I thought the first half was like any first game of the season with a lot of jitters and some uncharacteristic mistakes. But I thought we found our composure coming out in the second half. I challenged them to sit down, play defense, and obviously, they got my message. We didn't allow them to get anything easy."
In the first quarter, the 49ers came out firing on all cylinders by taking an 11-2 lead in just a few minutes. Molina Williams had Charlotte's first points of the season with a three-point jumper. Richmond worked their way back into the game by narrowing the deficit to one, but Charlotte led 15-12 at the end of the quarter.
Fifth-year forward Keke McKinney and senior guard Jada McMillian led the way in scoring with six points each. The team looked to add to their lead in the second quarter.
The second quarter was back and forth, and neither team could break away from the other on the scoreboard. Charlotte was stout on defense towards the end of the quarter by not allowing a single basket from the Spiders in the final four minutes of the quarter. The 49ers led, heading into the halftime break 28-23.
While the first half was back and forth, the third quarter was a very different story. In just the first minute of the half, fifth-year guard Octavia Jett-Wilson knocked down a jumper from beyond the arc, and McKinney followed that up with a layup to put Charlotte on a 5-0 to start the half, allowing the 49ers to push their lead to double digits.
Charlotte outscored Richmond with 22 points in the third quarter while holding the Spiders to just seven. After struggling to get things going in the first half, Jett-Wilson put up 11 points in the quarter, which was significant for the team down the stretch.
In the final quarter, the 49ers turned the corner in the game. In the fourth, a pair of jumpers from redshirt senior guard Mikayla Boykin and Jett-Wilson gave the team their largest lead of 25. The Spiders outscored the 49ers 15-8 in the rest of the quarter, but it wouldn't be enough to cover the deficit which secured the Charlotte victory.
Jett-Wilson led, scoring with 16, an impressive eight rebounds, two steals and a block. Her eight rebounds tied the team-high alongside sophomore Jacee Busick who also had eight in the contest.
The Duke transfer Boykin put up ten points in her 49er debut and led the team in steals and assists with three. Another transfer, McKinney, also scored in double-digits with 12 and five rebounds with a steal.
Charlotte's defensive presence proved vital in the team's victory. Richmond was held in check as they were forced to take shots, which showed in their poor field goal percentage of 28.6%. The 49ers put the pressure on the Spiders in the game by forcing a whopping 21 turnovers.
"I felt like if we could force them to play in the half-court consistently, we were the better team," said Consuegra. "We didn't do that in the first half. We were able to slow them down in transition, make tough shots, and because of that, we were also able to get stops, push in transition, and attack, which is where we are really good."
It was a big night for Consuegra as she made history by setting the school record for wins with 176.
"I'm just thankful for the opportunity to be here at Charlotte. Not many coaches get the longevity I've been afforded," said Consuegra. "I appreciate all the support I've gotten over the years from Judy Rose to Mike Hill and everybody else with the way they have treated me. Those two have been with me for so, so long; those two have been my side. I certainly couldn't do it without them, the other staff and all the players. The players that have come through and believed in me, that's certainly meant a lot to me."
Charlotte comes back home to Halton Arena on Sunday, Nov. 14, to host the North Carolina Tarheels. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+, and tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m.