The Charlotte 49ers battled time and again and were within three points with 7:05 remaining but Saint Joseph's finished strong to pull away, 80-64, in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship.
After E. Victor Nickerson's three-pointer brought the 49ers within three, 63-60, the Hawks went to the line on 5 of their next 6 possessions to spur a 17-4 closing run.
Trailing 69-64, with 2:54 left to play, SJU scored the final 11 points.
Chris Braswell led the 49ers (13-17) with his seventh 20-point game of the year, scoring 20 points with 7 rebounds, three blocks and 2 steals. DeMario Mayfield added 12 points and 7 rebounds.
The 49ers shot 41% for the game. Saint Joseph's shot 55%, including 68% in the second half. The Hawks (20-12) were 12-of-19 from the line. Charlotte was 3-of-8. Saint Joseph's hit 10-of-21 three-pointers.
Carl Jones (3-of-4 3FG) had 23 points to lead the Hawks while Langston Galloway (3-of-7 3FG) added 18. Halil Kanacevic (7-10 FG) had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
"Those were they were 2-of-21 (in the regular-season meeting, a 57-52 Charlotte road win). Tonight they were 10-of-21. That's 24 points," said head coach Alan Major. "I thought that was the difference."
Charlotte trailed by 11 early, 20-9, but charged to within three before the Hawks took a seven-point lead into the lockerroom. Braswell had 10 points and Mayfield 9 at the break.
In the second half, Saint Joseph's pushed the lead to 12 and then to 14 with 13:47 left.
Charlotte cut into the lead until Nickerson's corner three made it a three-point game, 63-60, with 7:05 to play.
On the next Saint Joseph's possession, though, Braswell picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench.
A putback by Ilija Ivankovic kept Charlotte within five at 3:11, but the 49ers would not score again as Saint Joseph's closed with an 11-0 run.
"That's the thing we try to stress to the kids," Major said. "You're not that far off. It's not about talent and not being good enough. Now its about little things and doing all those little things that seperate good teams from great teams."
Chris Braswell scored 20 points for the seventh time this season.
Braswell finished the year with 1085 career points, 20th all-time in school history.
Pierria Henry had three steals to finish the season with 72.
His 72 steals broke the 28-year old freshman record of 54 held by Keith Williams.
His 72 steals are tied for third-most in a single season by the 49ers.
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