College Basketball

Charlotte 49ers women: Win over Ball State is a lesson in winning

Charlotte 49ers guard Ciara Gregory (1) tries to get around Ball State's Carmen Grande during the Charlotte 49ers home opener women's basketball game Friday at Halton Arena.
Charlotte 49ers guard Ciara Gregory (1) tries to get around Ball State's Carmen Grande during the Charlotte 49ers home opener women's basketball game Friday at Halton Arena. WWW.MICZEKPHOTO.COM

Charlotte women’s basketball coach Cara Consuegra saw a few things she liked – and a few she didn’t – against Ball State.

Her biggest “like” was the final score – a 72-66, 49ers victory over the Cardinals on Friday at Halton Arena.

Ciara Gregory scored a career-high of 27 points, and Lefty Webster added a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds for Charlotte (1-0), which overcame a shaky start in the third quarter and an even-shakier finish in the fourth to win its sixth consecutive season opener.

“Overall, we need to look at the positives,” Consuegra said. “Our team played very well, especially defensively, for most of the game. . . . We also did a really good job of sharing the ball and trying to get some easy ones (baskets).”

Gregory, a junior guard, tied her career scoring record in the second quarter, pumping in 14 points as the 49ers pulled ahead 33-27 at the break. She also hit four 3-pointers in the quarter and five for the game, another career best.

Ball State (0-1), however, opened the third quarter with a nine-point run, taking its last lead at 36-33 with 7:05 remaining.

But the 49ers responded by outscoring the Cardinals 23-4 during the remaining seven minutes, for a 56-40 lead and were up 60-42 with 7:36 left in the game when Ball State began its comeback.

The Cardinals cut Charlotte’s lead to 68-64 with 59 seconds remaining, and had a chance to pull even closer. But Nathalie Fontaine was called for a travel just as she sank a layup with 10.4 seconds left, negating the basket.

The 49ers then hit four free throws over the final nine seconds to seal the win.

“We got too comfortable, which is the sign of a team that just hasn’t been in that position a lot,” Consuegra said. “We haven’t had big leads like that, and we have to learn that when we get them, we have to stay as focused as we were when we were getting that big lead.

“But having those teachable moments, things like that are correctable. We’ll take a look at the film, and we’ll learn from it.”

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