Despite a sloppy start in the first half and a blown double-digit lead in the second, the Charlotte 49ers finally were able to pull away late by keeping Texas State off the board for the final 5:19 en route to a 73-64 victory in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout late Thursday/early Friday morning ET in Anchorage. The win, giving the Green and White their first 4-0 start since 1995-96, puts them at 4-0 and in the semifinals, where they’re set to face Oral Roberts at 1:30 AM ET.
Since this is very, very after the fact due to the Thanksgiving holiday/late start time, we’ll keep it brief with some quick observations. While it’s great to see the Niners start off so quickly to open the season, ball security was a factor in this one (nine turnovers with seven minutes to go in the first half; they ended with 22) and toward the middle of the 2nd half, when they let the Bobcats back into the game. Numbers we did like: Pierria Henry’s near triple double (12 points, 11 boards, 7 assists) and Chris Braswell’s typical big outing (18 points, 8 rebounds). Two other players (Denzel Ingram with 11 and and DeMario Mayfield with 10) were in double figures.
The newcomer to the Southland Conference (and an NIT team from last year), the Golden Eagles of Oral Roberts (3-1), await the Niners, so set the DVR (or watch live if you’d like). ORU beat Loyola Marymount 75-66 in the Shootout earlier on Thursday. Keep an eye on Warren Niles, an all-conference second-team preseason selection and the team’s leading scorer in all four games (including a 33-point performance against LMU). The Niners will need to be much better in this one than they were against the Bobcats or they’ll have a tough time containing a ORU team capable of putting up points in bunches.