49ers defeat LA Tech to claim the C-USA crown
Charlotte Women’s basketball defeated LA Tech 68-63 in the Conference USA championship game. In doing so, they also punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament as each conference winner receives an automatic bid to the tournament.
“That’s probably not the way we drew it up,” coach Cara Consuegra said. “A lot of that is a credit to LA Tech. They came out really hungry, ready and they frustrated us a lot on the offensive side to start.”
The Lady Techsters came out with a purpose as coach mentioned. They led Charlotte 12-3 after the first quarter before the 49ers started to put some pieces together. Charlotte found their rhythm on the offensive side in the second quarter but still couldn’t stop LA Tech on defense. The teams both scored 16 points in the second quarter and the 49ers trailed by nine at halftime.
“I think a lot of that was just nerves,” Consuegra said.
The third quarter was dominated by the 49ers as Octavia Jett-Wilson proved just why she was the player of the year. She put her team on her back in this game scoring 31 points on the night and winning C-USA tournament MVP as icing on the cake.
The team’s resiliency in the second half was something that the coaching staff focused on all season, being able to regroup, refocus and turn things around. Charlotte did just that in the second half, outsourcing LA Tech in both quarters.
“I think being able to regroup, that is what we saw in the second half,” Consuegra added. “We saw a Charlotte basketball team that when we are clicking on all cylinders, we are really really good, and I am happy for our players.”
Both Jett-Wilson and Jada McMillan hit big shots down the stretch when LA Tech would make a run. Consuegra talked the day before about how McMillan had to get back to scoring and hitting her “kill shot,” which is her mid-range pull-up jumper.
McMillan hit a big shot when the Lady Techsters pulled within three, putting the 49ers back up five under a minute to go. In the end, the 49ers had to play the free throw game, but when you’re shooting as well as Jett-Wilson and McMillan were, it was all but certain in the end that the 49ers could put the game to bed.
This team is used to adversity as they have played many tough games and close games this season. Coach Consuegra felt that all their prior tests prepared them for this moment and a big reason why they walked away as champions.
“There has not been a game this year where we have not gone through significant adversity, not many, so we expected it, we were prepared for it, and today we are champions,” Consuegra said.
So, what is next?
The 49ers will travel to Bloomington, Indiana to face the Indiana Hoosiers in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday, March 19 at 1:30 pm.
The 49ers come in as the 14 seed in the Bloomington region and will face a tough Hoosier team that finished fifth in a stacked Big Ten league. They made a run to the championship game before losing to Iowa.
Follow @cwilliamssports on Twitter for live updates during the game. The game will be aired on ESPN2 and can be listened to locally on 730 The Game (730am).
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