University City

Gordon blossoms into one of 49ers’ top players

Kira Gordon’s college basketball experience has been different from what she anticipated.

The Charlotte sophomore from Kennesaw, Ga., was recruited as a guard. But because the 49ers lacked depth in the post last year, the 6-foot Gordon was moved to forward.

That opened up more playing time for her as a freshman, another pleasant surprise for the humble Gordon.

While she was a modest reserve last season, this year Gordon has blossomed into one of Charlotte’s top players. Through 12 games, she was averaging 11.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, putting her among the team leaders in both categories.

Gordon’s play is not surprising her coach, though. Cara Consuegra, in her third year leading the 49ers, said “the sky’s the limit” for Gordon.

Last year, Gordon became the first Charlotte freshman since 2001-02 to play in all 32 games. She averaged 12 1/2 minutes a game, averaging 2.7 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

Between the 49ers’ two games against Davidson, Gordon posted season bests in scoring and rebounding. In a regular-season game in December, Gordon notched 12 points. In the teams’ WNIT second-round game last March, Gordon grabbed six rebounds.

Consuegra anticipated Gordon playing as a “big guard.” But when 6-foot-2-inch post player Gabby Tyler suffered an season-ending concussion, Consuegra believed she had no choice but to move Gordon.

“She did such a great job that we kept her there,” Consuegra said. “And I’m not sure that we’ll ever move her out of there.”

Gordon said the biggest adjustment she made is playing defense against bigger and more physical players. That included practices, when she had to defend 6-foot-3-inch Jennifer Hailey, last season’s Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year, and 6-foot-4-inch Amanda Dowe, a third-team all-conference player.

Scoring against them in practice wasn’t easy. She wasn’t used to playing offense with her back to the basket, so she tried to play to her strengths.

“I couldn’t just shoot over them,” Gordon said. “I had to work on counter-moves.”

At the end of the season, Gordon sustained a stress fracture in her leg and missed several weeks of off-season workouts. She had to gradually play her way back into shape this season.

In the meantime, Consuegra reiterated Gordon’s importance as a post player, allowing Gordon the opportunity to concentrate on the position before this season began.

It didn’t take the second-year player long to break out of her shell. Gordon was steady from the season’s onset, but in Charlotte’s game against Central Florida, she scored a career-high 16 points.

Gordon followed that with a 14-point game against UNLV, and a new career-best of 19 points against Davidson on Dec. 21. Against Furman on Dec. 29, Gordon recorded her first double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

“I feel like the season is going pretty well,” Gordon said. “I am trying to contribute any way I can.”

Hammonds leads 49ers in 2 stats

Senior guard Ny Hammonds is leading Charlotte’s women’s basketball team in two major stat categories through 12 games, scoring at 11.6 points per game and handing out assists at 5.4 per game.

Redshirt junior Gabby Tyler leads the 49ers in rebounding at 7.2 per game.

Charlotte is third among Conference USA teams in free throw percentage (.720). Sophomore forward Kira Gordon is fifth in the league in field goal percentage (.531). Hammonds is fourth in C-USA in assists per game.

Two 49ers among C-USA leaders

The men’s basketball team is second among C-USA teams in 3-point shooting percentage (.371). East Carolina is first at .393.

Sophomore forward Willie Clayton is second in the league in rebounding (9.5 per game) and is first in field-goal percentage (62.2 percent). Junior guard Pierria’ Henry is first in steals (2.67 per game) and third in assists (6.17 per game).