Almost a week removed from earning her 100th career win, Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball coach Cara Consuegra continues receiving congratulatory messages about reaching the milestone.
Consuegra, however, has plenty of other reasons to celebrate.
The 49ers enter Thursday’s Education Day game against Western Kentucky (11:30 a.m.) having won seven straight. The streak is the program’s longest since a school-record 13 straight during the 2012-13 season.
In the current streak, Charlotte (10-3, 2-0 Conference USA) is averaging 76 points and holding opponents to 60.6. The 49ers defeated North Texas and Rice by 15 and 18 points, respectively, for their first 2-0 start in C-USA play since the 2013-14 season, its first back in the conference after eight years in the Atlantic 10.
“I’ve had teams in the past that have had momentum coming into conference play and kind of got complacent,” Consuegra said. “This group really plays with more of a chip on their shoulder, like we always have something to prove.”
Charlotte’s recent success has helped its RPI (Ratings Percentage Index). Through Tuesday’s games, the 49ers ranked 53rd nationally and first in C-USA in RPI. Their losses have come against teams ranked in the top 38 (Utah, Boise State and Miami).
Thursday’s game against Western Kentucky (10-4, 2-0) could serve as a barometer of where Charlotte stands in the conference.
Western Kentucky, which reached the Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals last season, has a 33-5 conference record since joining C-USA before the 2014-15 season. Winners of five straight, the Lady Toppers were picked to finish first in the conference’s preseason poll.
The 49ers are 1-4 against Western Kentucky since the Lady Toppers entered C-USA. And though much of the conference schedule remains, a win Thursday could go a long way for Charlotte.
“It doesn’t make or break us, whether we win or lose,” Consuegra said. “But I think certainly playing a team this good this early in conference play is going to be really good for us to see where we are and see what we need to do moving forward.”
By the numbers
82 Through Tuesday’s games, Charlotte is ranked 15th nationally with 82 blocked shots. Redshirt junior Nyilah Jamison-Myers, who sat out last season after transferring from Clemson, leads the team with 25.
37.7 The 49ers are shooting 37.7 percent (60-for-159) on 3-pointers during their seven-game winning streak. Senior guard Ciara Gregory has shot 40 percent (26-for-65) from behind the arc during the streak.
3 Charlotte is one of three Conference USA teams with a 2-0 conference record. The 49ers face the other two (Western Kentucky and Marshall) at Halton Arena in their next two games.
13 Sophomore Grace Hunter (14.9 points), Gregory (14.2) and senior Lefty Webster (13.1) are three of the top 13 scorers in Conference USA, tying Western Kentucky for the most entering Thursday’s play.