While Senior Day was set aside to honor Ben Cherry in his final game at Halton Arena, the day belonged to Willie Clayton.
The sophomore muscled his way to 14 points (on 7-9 shooting) and nine rebounds as the Niners snapped a six-game losing streak, topping the Old Dominion Monarchs 74-63 in their final home game of the season.
But this one wasn’t as close as the score would indicate at times.
Charlotte’s lead would balloon to as much as 18 in the second half behind timely shooting and good ball control–turning it over only 12 times and racking up 21 assists, ten of them by Henry. With 11:44 left in the contest, they were at 84.3% shooting (11-13) and at one point scored on ten straight possessions–helping to break open a game that was 32-26 at the half. They won the battle of the boards, 35-25, including 12-7 on the offensive glass.
Mike Thorne Jr. matched Clayton’s output with 14 points of his own on 6-8 shooting while Marcus Bryan added a career-high 10. Aaron Bacote was 8-14 for Old Dominion with his 17 points leading all scorers. Cherry, meanwhile, scored eight points–all in the second half–on 3-7 shooting and 2-5 from three.
“We’ve still got things that we can get better at,” said coach Alan Major. “Even though it’s the month of March, our goal is (trying to) continue to get better. That’s kind of the plan right now–it’s more about how you’re playing this time of the year than where you’re seeded.”
Charlotte has one more–against Marshall on the road on Thursday–before the scene shifts to the Conference USA tournament in El Paso. Can they make a run at it and possibly surprise some people in a few weeks?
“I believe that. I’ve believed it during the six-game losing streak,” said Major. “I think these guys believe it. The motivation’s playing the right way…these guys know what it’s like when it’s right on both sides of the ball, and we’ve got to consume ourselves with that.”