Charlotte 49ers head coach Alan Major was discussing on his radio program on Monday how he thought his team was going to be like the little school, Hickory High, against the big school in the Indiana High School Basketball Tournament as depicted in the movie, Hoosiers. I am thinking about this as the game against Butler is getting ready to start. We are underdogs who have lost three road games in a row against the #11 team, Butler, at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Hinkle, ironically, is where the upset took place in real life. Major has me believing Charlotte can pull off the miracle upset, or maybe it’s just the fever talking. I guess what really matters is can Major get the team to believe it?
Butler’s 6’11”, 243 pound Andrew Smith is out with an abdominal injury. Charlotte needs to attack inside to take advantage of this. And Chris Braswell and the rest of the team will exploit this.
Charlotte gets the opening tip, but can’t convert. Butler hits a three.
Darion Clark commits an offensive foul at the 16:57 mark, and we’re down 5-2.
We go inside twice to exploit Andrew Smith’s absence, and we’re up 6-5.
Denzel Ingram for three! And we’re up 9-7. With a 6-0 run, it’s 12-7, 49ers.
Chris Braswell scores inside, and we’re up 16-9.
Rotnei Clark of Butler hits a three, and it’s 16-12.
Khyle Marshall of Butler gets the and one but misses the free throw. It is now 16-14, 49ers. Five minutes later, they are up 20-19. We aren’t getting many shots, and Butler is missing their threes. We are 1-3 on three pointers, while Butler is 2-11.
Butler goes up 23-20, and they’re on a 14-4 run.
It’s tied 23-23 at the 2:53 mark. Niners have 0 offensive rebounds and Butler has 7. That’s why they’re in the game despite shooting worse.
Kellen Dunham scores with three Niners on him. One got a partial block, but it still went in. 27-25 Butler.
E. Victor Nickerson gets the and one for Charlotte but misses the free throw. It’s tied 27-27.
Chris Braswell scores with 1:01 left–29-27.
Butler gets called for goaltending at the buzzer. Officials review, and the goaltending was after the buzzer, so Charlotte doesn’t get the points. It stays 29-27, 49ers at the half.
Charlotte is shooting 57% to Butler’s 33%.
Charlotte is 1/3 on 3’s to Butler’s 2/11.
Charlotte’s rebounds are 16 to Butler’s 19; their offensive rebounds are 0 to Butler’s 8.
Charlotte’s bench points are 10 to Butler’s 0. Niners are 13-1 when leading at the half.
Pierria Henry gets the and one at the 18:03 mark. He makes the free throw and it’s 34-29, Niners.
Butler hits two 3’s to cut the deficit to 38-37. Henry responds with a 3 of his own, and it’s 41-37 Niners.
Chris Braswell draws a foul at the 12:29 mark, and hits both free throws. 45-40 Niners.
Stop 15 on 15 violence. Rotnei Clarke of Butler hacks Pierria Henry of the Niners at the 10:14 mark. Henry hits 1-2 FTs, and it’s 49-44, Niners. We have now just scored our lucky number.
We get a steal after a missed basket, and score. 51-44, Niners.
Teams go back and forth to Charlotte’s largest lead, 59-49. I’m feeling pretty confident we’re going to pull off the upset. An upset over Butler on the road, who went to the NCAA Championship Game in 2010 and 2011, can mean the difference between the NIT and NCAA Tournaments.
Rotnei Clarke brings back Butler on an improbable comeback. He scores 15 in the last 3 minutes and change. Clarke was hitting them from so far back, no way it was going in, but it did. His longest 3 cut the game to 1, 68-67. I’m starting to get a little nervous. But the Niners hit 3-4 FTs to close out the game 71-67. It is a great win for Niner Nation!
What’s remarkable is people were leaving the stands right behind the bench in the middle of Butler’s comeback. It’s one thing to leave if you’re high up, but don’t leave in droves right behind the bench. To Butler’s credit, they didn’t let that affect them.