The Charlotte 49ers haven’t beaten the Xavier Musketeers all that often. They figured that they would do it at home this time around. The Niners put a blemish on the Musketeers’ undefeated Atlantic 10 record en route to a 63-57 win, moving them to 16-3 overall, 4-1 in the league and 10-0 at Halton Arena. It was Charlotte’s first win over Xavier since March 2, 2011, ending a three-game losing streak to their rivals from Ohio.
Things got off to a sloppy start as teams couldn’t find their stroke and struggled with turnovers; Xavier had the better of the play, though, opening up a 15-9 lead with 7:50 left in the first half. But Charlotte came out with a 28-27 lead heading toward the break–capped by Denzel Ingram’s back-to-back threes and a jumper by Pierria Henry.
The second half saw the game open up a little, and the Niners took advantage of timely shooting and a few defensive stops on their way a 13-2 run spanning over six and a half minutes–it was 49-39 with 8:18 left.
As expected, though, X looked to mount a comeback. They scored the next 5 to get it to 49-44, and eventually got within 50-46 with 5:46 left. Turnovers and missed opportunities at the line looked as if it would come to haunt the Niners in the end, but some key buckets (including a DeMario Mayfield 3 with 2:57 left) and some strong play inside, coupled with the Musketeers’ own struggles at the stripe, put this one in the win column for the home team.
A couple of players stood out in this one. Darion Clark and Denzel Ingram had their best games as Niners by far. Clark was a beast, recording four blocks (two of which will stand out in particular) in a game where he didn’t score all that much. Ingram hit two very clutch threes toward the end of the first half and made an absolute hustle play with 1:10 left (and Charlotte holding an eight point lead) to not only deny Dee Davis a fast break layup, but avoid picking up a foul in the process. Off the inbound following a Charlotte timeout, Xavier ended up turning the ball over. Pierria Henry, while only scoring three points, was his usual force on the defensive end.
Four Niners finished in double figures: Clayton, who was perfect (6-6) from the field, led the way with 14 and was Charlotte’s top rebounder with 8 boards. Chris Braswell and Ingram put in 12 points each while Mayfield ended with 13 points, 11 coming in the first half. But, as mentioned, free throws (14-29) and turnovers (19) continue to be a struggle for this team; but ugly as this one was, it’s still a win.
Xavier’s Semaj Christon and Travis Taylor (18 each) led all scorers, with Taylor’s 11 rebounds giving him a double-double. X committed 17 turnovers and was blocked nine times, while going 4-9 from the line. They did hold a 44-33 edge on the boards (including 21-6 on offensive rebounds). They certainly had opportunities, but in the end, Charlotte made the most of theirs.
Up next: At George Washington Saturday at 2pm. After that, it’s a week break before Homecoming against UMass on February 2, followed by the toughest stretch of the year over their next five (@ Temple, VCU, @ Butler, Saint Louis, Temple).