The Charlotte 49ers (19-4, 8-1) pulled away from the Butler Bulldogs (14-10, 5-4) late in the game to earn a 59-49 win on Wednesday night in Halton Arena.
It was the first time the two teams had ever faced each other in women’s basketball after Butler joined the Atlantic 10 (A-10) last may. The Bulldogs are now 2-5 against first-time A-10 opponents this season.
Charlotte forward Jennifer Hailey came into the game needing just one blocked shot to become the school’s all-time leading shot blocker. The moment came not even three minutes into the game.
“Tremendous effort. Tremendous accomplishment. She’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever coached and probably one of the greatest people I’ve ever coached. I’m really happy for her,” Charlotte Head Coach Cara Consuegra said of her senior.
Hailey also grabbed career rebound number 1,000 late in the game, a mark that only two other women’s basketball players have accomplished at Charlotte.
Charlotte started the game a little sloppy, and seven of Butler’s first 11 points came off turnovers. One tie and four lead changes later, the 49ers went into the locker room down by four.
The 49ers were a little lethargic at the beginning of the second half as well. With just over 13 minutes to play and down by seven points, Consuegra called a timeout to let her team regroup.
That timeout turned out to be the turning point in the game, as the 49ers outscored the Bulldogs 33-13 from that point on.
“I can’t really take credit for it,” Consuegra said. “I think they got to that point where they said enough is enough, we don’t want to lose. You have to give them credit for changing the engery themselves. That shows maturity in our team and in our leaders.”
Hailey led all Charlotte players in scoring with 16 points. She pulled down 12 total rebounds to record her ninth straight double-double.
Charlotte forward Amanda Dowe also recorded a double-double, her tenth of the season, with 13 points and 14 total rebounds.
12 of Dowe’s 14 rebounds came on the offensive side of the ball.
49ers guard Ny Hammonds was the third and final double-digit scorer for Charlotte with 15 points including 7-8 free throw shooting. Hammonds also dished out a team-high seven assists.
Bulldogs guard Taylor Schippers highlighted the stat sheet for Butler with 17 points on seven of nine shooting. Both of Schippers’s missed field goals came from behind the arc at the end of the game when the Bulldogs were attempting to stage a late-game rally.
Butler forward Daress McClung nearly recorded a double-double with eight points and 10 total rebounds. McClung also led the Bulldogs with four assists.
Turnovers hurt the 49ers early, but killed the Bulldogs late. When it was all said and done, Butler had committed 22 turnovers that resulted in 17 Charlotte points.
With 26 offensive rebounds, Charlotte was able to out-score Butler in second chance points, 23-6.
Free throw shooting was another reason the 49ers were able to run away from the Bulldogs late on Wednesday. After shooting only 50 percent in the first half, Charlotte made 12 of their 15 free throw attempts (80 percent) in the final 20 minutes.
“Give Butler some credit, they came here ready to play off of a really bad loss. They played really hard and quite honestly, out-played us in the first 30 minutes,” Consuegra added.
“Not the prettiest win for us but one that we just battled through and found a way to win, and that’s the sign of a really good team.”
Butler will return home to Indianapolis to face St. Bonaventure on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Charlotte will stay at home for another A-10 conference match-up against George Washington. Tip-off against the Colonials is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday.