CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Led by the balanced scoring attack with four players in double-figures, the Charlotte 49ers (12-2) defeated the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (6-8), 71-63, in overtime in their final non-conference game.
"It was a hard fought win," Charlotte coach Alan Major said. "UNC Asheville's record is deceiving they are a very good basketball team. I was pleased that we found a way to gut out a win."
Freshman Willie Clayton was impressive for the 49ers in the win. He finished with a career-high 16 points and 16 rebounds. He notched his second consecutive double-double and third of the season. Clayton led Charlotte's defense with 11 rebounds coming from the defensive end.
Freshman Denzel Ingram also scored 16 points to match his career-high. He was 7-for-10 from the field, including two 3-pointers.
Junior DeMario Mayfield added 15 points off the bench for the Niners and sophomore Pierria Henry recorded 11 points and three steals. Mayfield and Henry each grabbed six rebounds apiece and senior Chris Braswell registered a career-high four blocks in the win.
The 49ers behind the scoring of Mayfield finished the game with a 20-4 advantage in points.
Charlotte's play in overtime didn't resemble its efforts in the concluding minutes of the second half. The 49ers were fearless and came out forceful with a steadfast defense that kept Asheville scoreless for nearly three minutes. Charlotte used an 8-0 run to take a 64-56 advantage with 2:11 left in overtime. The 49ers converted their free throws in overtime taking their largest lead of the game, 69-58, with 39 seconds remaining when Braswell made two free throws.
In what looked like a game that was won by the 49ers in the final minutes of the second half, quickly turned around in favor of Asheville. With four minutes remaining, Charlotte took its largest lead of the half after Ingram hit a three-pointer pushing the 49ers lead to 54-46. However, the Bulldogs took advantage of second chance points and used a 10-2 run at the 3:23 mark, which included seven consecutive points from Jeremy Atkinson to tie the game 56-56.
The 49ers shot 11-for-20 (55 percent) in the second half and finished the game shooting 23-for-56 (41.1 percent).
Charlotte and Asheville were tied at 25 at halftime. The first half featured seven ties and six lead changes. The Bulldogs took a quick 7-2 lead over the 49ers with 16:27 left in the half. The Niners tied the game at 14 courtesy of a fast break dunk from Henry with 11:13 remaining. Both teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half, as each team never took more than a two-point lead.
The Bulldogs also placed four players in double-digits in scoring. Asheville was led by Jeremy Atkinson and Keith Hornsby with 16 points apiece.
Charlotte returns to action on Wednesday, January 9 as it hosts La Salle in their Atlantic 10 opener. Tip-off is set for 7:30 at Halton Arena.
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