Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Charlotte 49ers women face Tulane at Halton

A tough nonconference schedule might be paying off for the Charlotte 49ers' women's basketball team.

The 49ers (9-8, 3-1), who host Tulane (12-5, 3-1) in a Conference USA game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Halton Arena, learned plenty from a nonleague slate that included games (and losses) against South Carolina, Kansas State, Minnesota and Cincinnati.

"The record wasn't what we wanted, but the product of it is what we wanted," said coach Cara Consuegra. "Our team was challenged. It helped our young kids know that they didn't have it all figured out."

The 49ers' fast start in Conference USA -- they also play at home Saturday against Rice -- has been spurred by junior forward Gabby Tyler, who averages 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in league games, and guard Hillary Sigmon. Tyler missed last season with a concussion and three games this season due to injury and illness. Tyler tied a career high with 22 points (going 10-of-11 from the field) and had 12 rebounds in a victory against UTEP last Saturday. Sigmon (Hickory High) had 32 points in that game and has moved into third on Charlotte's 3-pointers made career list.

"Gabby has stepped up big for us and regained the form she had in her previous two years at Charlotte," said Consuegra. "She's been a dominant force inside and opens things up for our shooters, because she gets double-teamed every time.

"You saw sparks of it coming with her during nonconference. But during conference play her numbers have been incredible. She deserves it because she's been through a lot."