The Charlotte 49ers (2-1) overcame 19 turnovers in yesterday’s 83-69 home win against a tough Elon (2-1) squad that’s favored to win the Southern Conference this year.
Elon led by as much as 12 in the first half, but Charlotte was able to tie it up 32-32 heading into halftime. After a Tanner Samson 3-pointer at the 5:16 mark of the second half, the Niners went on a 25-7 run to close out the game–a complete contrast to the last five minutes of Charlotte’s one-point road loss at the College of Charleston earlier in the week. The Niners had five different players score in double-figures and remain undefeated at home this season (2-0).
Shawn Lester had a career-high 24 points and 11 rebounds coming off the bench in his third collegiate game with the Niners. Willie Clayton had his second straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds (6 offensive rebounds), and also added 2 blocks. Mike Thorne was dominant again, adding 14 points on 6-10 shooting and 8 rebounds. Pierria Henry was his usual self: 13 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals (3 in the second half). Terrance Williams struggled with turnovers and poor shooting from the field again, but still was able to contribute 16 points, 5 assists, and 8 rebounds, including 10-11 shooting from the charity stripe.
The Niners outrebounded Elon 47-26, including a 12-4 edge on offensive rebounds. Charlotte also had a huge edge at the free throw line, going 22-33 while Elon only got to the line a total of six times. Charlotte allowed their opponent to score at least 10 three-pointers for the second straight game, something that could be a concern for the Niners moving forward this season. Denzel Ingram hopes to return soon, an addition that could help the team’s perimeter defense.
This was Charlotte’s third straight game this season scoring over 80 points, something they were only able to do 4 times last year. It’s also something that should continue to be a trend throughout college basketball this season; referees are calling more fouls in hopes to speed things up and create higher scoring games. This has helped Charlotte get to the free throw line at least 30 times in each game this year, but it has also caused the Niners to play a lot of zone defense which has led to problems guarding the perimeter and allowing 29 threes this season.
Charlotte heads to Puerto Rico next week for the Puerto Rico Tip-off tournament. Charlotte plays against Kansas State (1-1) at 10:30 Thursday morning on ESPNU, and then has games on both Friday (Georgetown/Northeastern) and Sunday (VCU/Florida State/Michigan/Long Beach State).