The Charlotte 49ers will be playing for another early season tournament title.
Ben Cherry finally ended a season-opening shooting slump, Shawn Lester had another rock solid game off the bench to lead six Niners in double figures, and Charlotte (4-1) broke the 80-point plateau once more in a 86-77 victory over the Northeastern Huskies in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off semifinal. They’ll take on the winner of the second semifinal between the Florida State Seminoles and #14 Michigan Wolverines Sunday at 6:30.
Cherry did his damage on 6-7 shooting from beyond the arc, easily his best outing of the year, to tie Lester for a team-high 18 points. Lester, meanwhile, was 4-8 from the floor (3-5 from beyond the arc) and 7-8 from the line for his 18 points. Terrence Williams (13 points) had some timely buckets, while Pierria Henry (11) shook off a light shooting day to go 9-12 from the line.
The game was tied at 58 with 8:52 left following a jumper by the Huskies’ Reggie Spencer. But Charlotte charged back ahead, helped by a 19-7 run over a span of 7:27 (headlined by a Williams trey and six straight Niner free throws) to build a 77-65 advantage with 1:25 remaining. Northeastern (2-3) would not get closer than nine the rest of the way as they were plagued by poor free throw shooting down the stretch–at one point missing seven in a row from the stripe.
Scott Eatherton recorded his fourth double-double in five games with 22 points and 11 rebounds to lead both teams in that category. Three other Huskies, including Demetrius Pollard (11), scored in double figures.
Charlotte awaits the Florida State/Michigan outcome to find out their opponent in the final. Regardless, they’ll be playing Sunday at 6:30 on ESPN2.