The struggles continue for the Charlotte 49ers. A dreadful start that saw them trail by 29 at halftime equaled a 104-83 loss to St. Bonaventure in Olean, the Niners’ fourth loss in a row. More importantly, they fall to 6-8 in Atlantic 10 play–and if the season ended tonight, they would miss the conference tournament.
The Bonnies lit Charlotte up for nine threes in the opening frame and never looked back, breaking open the game early and taking a 53-24 lead into the locker room. Charlotte opened the 2nd half with the first seven points, but this one was well in hand and the Niners would get no closer than 16 the rest of the way.
Eric Mosley led the St. Bonaventure onslaught with 23 points, including 5-8 from beyond the arc. Matthew Wright finished with 20 on a 3-4 three point shooting day; Dion Wright added 15 on 6-7 shooting from the floor. All told, the Bonnies went 11-18 from beyond the arc (9-12 in the first half) and finished 58.8% from the field as they became the first Niner opponent to score over 100 since Duke in a 101-59 loss on November 17, 2009 during the NIT Season Tip-Off. It was also the most points allowed by Charlotte against any opponent since January 18, 1992–also to Duke, then #1 in the country, in an eerily similar final score of 104-82.
The defeat wasted a career performance by Ivan Benkovic; the Charlotte freshman went 5-9 from three-point range to finish with 15. E. Victor Nickerson finished with a team high 18 (5-8 from the floor, one three pointer, 7-8 at the line), while Terrence Williams pitched in 17.
And with this loss, Niner fans look as if they have thrown up their collective hands and begun to look to next season. Consider this: the Niners have fallen into a three-way tie with Dayton and George Washington for 11th in the conference. The Flyers and Colonials both beat Charlotte–meaning that right now, they’re on the outside looking in when it comes to the conference tournament. Remember, the top 12 teams get in, so what looked like a foregone conclusion may come down to the season’s final days.
Even worse, Charlotte no longer controls their own destiny, so not only do they need to win out against Duquesne on the road (Wednesday) and Saint Joseph’s at Halton (next Saturday), they’ll need some help.