After a sloppy first half, the 49ers were able to outscore the Bulldogs 49-28 in the second half en route to a 24-point victory for the Niners in an exhibition game Saturday afternoon against Wingate University. Charlotte improved from a 36% shooting performance in the first half to shooting 58% (including 6-13 from 3) from the field in the second half of play.
Pierria Henry led the team with 18 points, all in the second half, on 7-11 shooting (3 of 5 from beyond the arc), while also adding 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Big men Willie Clayton and Mike Thorne both added 13 points with 9 rebounds and 12 rebounds, respectively. Newcomer Shawn Lester lived up to expectations (for this exhibition match, at least..) with 15 points, and Terrance Williams rounded out the double-digit scorers with 12.
Although it was just an exhibition, here are some of the key takeaways from the game:
-The team shot 35% from 3-point range- they didn’t shoot an amazing clip from the perimeter, but it was encouraging to see and should be an area of improvement compared to last season. Henry seemed to have found his stroke in the offseason and Cherry and Williams both showed they were capable to hit from deep. With Ingram and Benkovic out for this game, the team will only get better from beyond the arc.
-Ben Cherry (8 points, 2-6 from three) was thought to have been brought in as a 3-point specialist, but he may add more than just that for Charlotte this year. He showed that he’s a player with a high basketball IQ and an ability to handle the ball effectively. He was able to drive to the basket and find open teammates which led to him sharing the lead with 4 assists on the afternoon.
-Willie Clayton still could struggle from the free throw line this year. After missing his first four free throws, he ended up going 1-6 from the charity stripe in the game. He did hit a jumper early in the contest, though, and still appears to be a beast down low.
-As Alan Major said in an interview earlier this week, Mike Thorne may be Charlotte’s most improved player from last year. He was able to play 22 solid minutes while racking up a double-double (13 points, 12 rebounds) and adding 2 blocks.
-The starting lineup for the Niners was Henry, Cherry, Williams, Clayton, and Thorne. Lester was able to play the point when Henry was on the bench, although Ingram figures to be the backup point guard when he’s ready to play. Marcus Bryan was the main backup in the frontcourt while Blakely played the least amount of minutes off the bench (and went 0-3 from deep).
Charlotte opens their season at home in Halton Arena next Friday at 7:30 pm against East Tennessee State University.+