The Charlotte 49ers battled homestanding Xavier throughout, only to fall down the stretch, 72-63, in the Cintas Center, Saturday in the regular-season finale. The loss leaves the 49ers tied for 11th in the final A-10 standings. Charlotte will be seeded 12th in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Championship Tournament, with a road game at #5 seed Saint Joseph's, Tuesday night at 7 pm in the first round.
Junior Chris Braswell, who hit 11-of-15 shots, led the 49ers with 28 points and nine rebounds and the 49ers led for much of the game but Xavier finished strong, outscoring the 49ers 13-3 over the final 5:18 to grab the victory.
Charlotte led by as much as 14 in the first half and by 7 at the half. In the second half, the 49ers led by 9, early and still led by six, 55-49 with 8:50 to play after a pair of Deuce Briscoe three-pointers.
"Our guys understand that we are capable of playing with anybody," said 49ers head coach Alan Major. "When we do that that we can be pretty good. It's just a matter of sustaining it for 40 minutes and today I thought we had about 28 to 30."
Charlotte, which had lost its previous five trips to Cintas Center by a combined 21.7 points, put a scare in the Xavier crowd in the first half, building a lead as high as 14 points on Braswell's 16 first-half points. The 49ers led by five, 24-19, before they got three straight buckets inside from Javarris Barnett and Braswell and ended a 13-4 run on a DeMario Mayfield three-pointer.
"I'm proud of the is guy next to me (Braswell)," Major added "His effort. He did a good job of carrying us offensively."
Xavier scored the last seven points of the half to cut the lead to seven, 37-30 at the break.
In the second half, Braswell hit a jumper to put the 49ers ahead by nine, 39-30, but Xavier whittled into the lead to take a 42-41 lead with 13:41 to play. The 49ers did not break, however. Briscoe's hot shooting carried the 49ers back to a six-point lead, 55-49 with 8:50 left to go.
Mark Lyons, Tu Holloway and Kenny Frease carried Xavier down the stretch. The trio scored Xavier's final 25 points. Holloway scored 10 of the 49ers final 14 points, including a key contested three-pointer with 1:58 to play that pushed Xavier's lead to nine, 70-61.
Holloway finished with 24 points while Frease has 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Charlotte shot .393 from the field and won the battle of the boards, 39-36, but Xavier shot .446 from the floor, including 48% in the second half. Charlotte also committed 14 turnovers, compared to Xavier's eight.
Mayfield had 11 points for the 49ers and Briscoe added 9.
The Atlantic 10 Championship tournament bracket is attached.
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