Charlotte’s women’s basketball team got double-doubles from seniors Jennifer Hailey and Amanda Dowe in a 79-61 victory against Appalachian State on Thursday in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
Hailey had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Dowe had 19 and 16 as the 49ers (25-5) advanced out of the first round in postseason play for the first time since 2011.
The win sets up an interesting second-round matchup for Charlotte.
The 49ers, who have won 14 of their past 15 games, will face Mecklenburg County rival Davidson – an 82-73 winner against Old Dominion, the Wildcats’ first-ever postseason victory – at 2 p.m. Sunday at Halton Arena.
Anna Freeman had 20 points and Bria Huffman 11 for the Mountaineers (20-11), who led early but could not handle Charlotte’s inside game and defense.
The 49ers held Appalachian State to 39 percent shooting – including 5 of 14 on 3-pointers – forced the Mountaineers into 20 turnovers, and held a 44-32 rebounding edge.
All that allowed Charlotte to turn a five-point halftime lead into a runaway in the final minutes of the second half. The 49ers pushed their lead as high as 20 points, 79-59, on Dowe’s free throw with 1 minute, 13 seconds left.
Ayanna Holmes scored 10 points and Ny Hammonds had 10 assists for Charlotte, which used a series of small runs in the first half to take a 38-33 lead at the break.
The 49ers shot nearly 53 percent in the half (18 of 34), with Hailey and Dowe combining for 20 points as Charlotte outscored Appalachian State 28-12 in the paint.
The 49ers also forced the Mountaineers into 10 first-half turnovers, leading to a 17-7 scoring advantage and a 16-0 edge in fast-break points.
It also helped that Appalachian State found itself in foul trouble early, with Freeman playing just nine minutes after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes.
Freeman scored five of the Mountaineers’ first nine points as they swapped the lead with Charlotte seven times in the opening stages.
Appalachian State’s last lead came at 9-8 on Maryah Sydnor’s jumper with 14:45 left. The 49ers got a three-point play from Hailey and Forney set up baskets by Hammonds and Dowe to put Charlotte up for good in the half.
The Mountaineers pulled within a point four times, the last at 21-20 with 9:03 left, but the 49ers went on a 13-4 run to take their biggest lead of the first half, 34-24, on Dowe’s jumper with 54 seconds remaining.