It wasn’t pretty, but the Charlotte 49ers (13-7, 4-3) still managed to pull out a 62-53 victory over Florida Atlantic (7-14, 2-4) to bring their conference record back over .500.
The Niners didn’t get their first lead of the game until a nice Henry-to-Williams alley-hoop with 2:54 left in the first half that brought the home fans to their feet. It was a back-and-forth game for most of the second half until Shawn Lester hit a three to give his team the lead with 7:49 left in the game, and FAU never was able to regain the edge.
Shawn Lester led the Niners by tying his career-high with 24 points (4-6 from three) and also led the team in rebounds by grabbing 11 boards. Coach Alan Major gave credit to Lester’s performance due to the sophomore guard’s work ethic in the gym this morning.
“[In] shootaround this morning, he was very focused in terms of shooting shots that were game-like,” Major said.
In response to him leading the team in rebounding on the night, Lester joked, “Seeing Willie fight and get all those rebounds, I just wanted to see what it felt like.”
Willie Clayton was the only other Niner with double-digit scoring, racking up 13 points to go along with his 7 rebounds. Pierria Henry finished with his typical statline of 9 points, 8 boards, and 7 assists. Clayton and Lester combined to shoot an impressive 14-24 from the field while the rest of the team struggled to hit shots, going 6-36 in the game.
Pablo Bertone was his usual self for FAU for the most part, finishing with 20 points and 8 rebounds, but he did not score a point in the final 10 minutes, 9 seconds of the game. He did miss four free throws and was seen stretching out in apparent pain before the final media timeout, but the Niners defense deserves credit for shutting down the Owls star player to help pull away for the victory.
The 49ers will be looking to keep some positive momentum as Charlotte returns to Halton Arena Saturday night, hosting Florida International with a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.