All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, things ended a little earlier than the Charlotte 49ers would have liked. A jumper by Jaterra Bonds with two seconds left was the difference as the Florida Gators slipped past the Niners, 67-65, in a WNIT third round matchup at Halton Arena on Wednesday night.
After January Miller hit a three pointer with 51 seconds left to make it 65-64 Charlotte, Christin Mercer came up with a steal on the ensuing Niner posession. Bonds was then fouled; after she hit the front end of a one-and-one to tie it up, Jennifer George rebounded the miss on the second free throw. Gators coach Amanda Butler then called timeout with 16 seconds left. That would set up Bonds’ eventual heroics as she nailed a jumper with the game clock winding down.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Niners, who had led by six at the half (34-28). But no team would take more than a five point lead in the second half as the two teams went back and forth on the scoreboard. This one wasn’t pretty, either; each team had 19 turnovers.
Four Niners hit double figures, led by Jenn Hailey’s game-high 19. Amanda Dowe had a double-double (15 points, 12 boards) while Hillary Sigmon posted 13, including 3-9 shooting from beyond the arc; Jai Forney scored 11. For the Gators, Bonds was the top scorer with 15, followed by George’s 14. Sydney Moss nearly had a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Niners see their season end at 26-6, tied for the second-best mark in program history. It also marks the end of the road for Dowe, Forney and Hailey, all three of whom left their mark on the team in a big way. The trio was part of 87 wins during their tenure and will make for some big shoes to fill beginning next year. Another era officially ends: the Atlantic 10 era for Charlotte basketball as they return to Conference USA this fall. It will certainly be much different than the A-10, and time will tell if they’ll be able to rise to the top.