The Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team has played five games so far this season and have achieved a record of 1-4. The Niners were set to play two more out of conference games against Dayton and in-state rival Davidson, but both games were cancelled due to COVID-19 related issues.
Despite being three games under .500, the 49ers have been competitive in all five games this season and have been a few plays away from winning in the four narrow defeats.
Looking ahead, here are five things to takeaway from the non-conference games and what to look forward to for the rest of the season.
This team has a lot of upside
Don’t look at the record, look at the performances and the teams the 49ers have played. Charlotte has played road games against App State and UNC while hosting two ACC opponents in Clemson and Wake Forest. This year’s team is special and has what it takes to have a great season and win a lot of games. They have size, length and versatile players that can score in a variety of ways.
Over recent years, Head Coach Cara Consuegra has been on record saying that she never creates a schedule to win 20 plus games. Rather, she puts tough opponents on the schedule to challenge her players to help them improve throughout the season, especially during conference play. That statement was evident this season as the team faced three ACC opponents.
Despite having four losses on the season, all four have been by single digits and by a combined total of 22 points. After starting 0-4, the 49ers earned their first win of the season with a 20-point victory over Campbell.
Charlotte really needed a win heading into conference play to give the players some confidence for the rest of the season and they achieved that win on the road against Campbell.
Charlotte has five players averaging at least nine points per game, which gives the team a variety of ways to attack on offense. This can be useful in conference play as multiple players can rise to the occasion and score when needed.
Although the team has a losing record, the 49ers have been competitive and can still turn the season around and have a great season.
Jacee Busick is set for a great freshman season
Jacee Busick is somewhat of a surprise star for the 49ers as she has been a starter in all five games so far this season and has played exceptionally well in her role. In the first five games, Busick is averaging nine points per game and has made the second most three pointers on the team with seven.
Busick has already received special recognition for her play on the court as she received the C-USA Freshman of the Week earlier this season. The standout freshman earned this honor after scoring 15 against Clemson, nine against Wake Forest and seven against UNC.
Despite only scoring two points against Campbell, Busick is set to have a great freshman season and potentially be in the running for C-USA Freshman of the Year and C-USA All-Freshman Team.
Jazmin Harris has a lot of potential
Jazmin Harris proved herself and earned the starting center position back over Dara Pearson, a sixth-year player under Coach Consuegra. Despite missing their matchup against Campbell, Harris is averaging 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. If she could continue that stat line, both would be career-bests for the junior center. Harris has also played a huge part in the paint by leading the team in rebounds and blocks.
Before the season started, Coach Consuegra said Harris could surprise a lot of teams with how talented she is and so far this season, she has dominated in her role.
Harris started 25 out of 30 games her freshman season and was named a part of the C-USA All-Freshman Team. Now in her junior season, Harris is back on track to start every game this season and dominate in the paint for the 49ers.
This team isn’t like any in the past
Teams under Coach Consuegra are known for having a good offense but an even better defense. Her teams like to thrive on offense based on how well they play on defense through forcing turnovers and contesting every shot possible. However, that isn’t the case this season.
Though five games, the 49ers are averaging over 70 points per game, the first time under Coach Consuegra since the 2016-17 season. On the defensive side, Charlotte has surrendered 355 points, the most points allowed through five games since the 2015-16 season.
With the team not playing since Dec. 11, Coach Consuegra probably has the team focused on playing better defense heading into conference play. If the 49ers are able to play more consistently on defense, the team will have a better chance of winning games in conference.
Veteran Backcourt is the real deal
With Mariah Linney coming off the bench this season, that leaves the starting backcourt to the two leading scorers for Charlotte in Jada McMillian and Octavia Jett-Wilson. Both guards are off to stellar starts in the 2020-21 season as McMillian and Jett-Wilson are averaging over 14 points per game.
Jett-Wilson showed the potential player she can be for Charlotte this season against Campbell. With the 49ers trailing by four at halftime, the fourth-year senior took the game into her own hands and scored 16 consecutive points, giving Charlotte the lead and never looking back. Jett-Wilson also proved herself by scoring a career-high against UNC with 22 points and gave the team a real chance of upsetting the Tar Heels on the road.
As for McMillian, she is having a breakout season in her junior year. Currently, she is averaging 14.6 points per game, which is eight points more than last season. McMillian is also averaging 4.4 assists per game, the most on the team.
Before the season started, Coach Consuegra said McMillian had the potential to be the best point guard in the C-USA and so far, she has lived up to that expectation. With conference play around the corner, the 49ers will look to Jett-Wilson and McMillian to score at a high level in order to stay competitive in the C-USA.
The Charlotte 49ers return to play on Friday, Jan. 8 when they host Marshall for their first Conference USA matchup.