San Juan, Puerto Rico – Terrence Williams stick back with one second on the clock gives the Charlotte 49ers (5-1) a 63-61 win over 13th-ranked Michigan (4-2), who was the 2013 National Runner-Up, to capture the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Title.
“You almost don’t know what to say after that one; that was one of the most incredible basketball games I’ve ever been a part of. I just can’t say enough about these kids,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “Every game got sticky, all three games of this tournament got sticky. Teams have gone on runs and guys don’t come to the time outs with their heads hanging, they maintain their poise. The thing that’s been the most fun and encouraging for me to watch is just them coming together down here and being a team. It’s the hardest thing to do in sports these days is to legitimately root for the next guy on your team and not care what happens for you. They’re really trying to be a team so I’m just really thankful to God for them. They’re a tremendous bunch and they deserve this. A lot of conditioning in the fall, a lot of running and weight room stuff, everything that they’ve done – they deserve it. Hats off to this crew.”
Denzel Ingram led the 49ers with 12 points off the bench. Pierria Henry scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists. Willie Clayton recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 15 rebounds. Clayton had nine offensive rebounds. Shawn Lester, who was named to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off All-Tournament team, scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a better offensive rebounder in all these year,” said Michigan Coach John Beilein. “That kid (Willie Clayton) is unbelievable, number 21, Clayton.”
Michigan’s Nik Stauskas led all scorers with 20 points.
Williams, who scored eight points, scored the game-winning basket when he missed a layup with three seconds on the clock. He grabbed the rebound and put the ball back into the basket with one second on the clock giving the 49ers the victory over #13 Michigan.
“I saw Pierriά driving down the lane, so I stepped down on the baseline and as he dumped it off to me I missed the layup,” Williams said. “I just stayed with it.”
Michigan scored eight of the game’s first 11 points taking an 8-3 lead with 17:35 on the clock. Then, Charlotte behind a basket by Mike Thorne and two threes by Lester gave the 49ers a 13-8 lead with 15:28.
Charlotte pushed their first half lead to 30-22 when Henry scored on a jumper in the lane with 4:08 on the clock. Michigan went on an 8-2 run cutting Charlotte’s lead to 32-30 when Zak Irvin knocked down a three with 21 seconds on the clock. Ingram knocked down a three from the win with four seconds on the clock giving the 49ers a 35-30 halftime lead.
The 49ers behind a three by Ben Cherry, a jumper by Henry and a layup by Thorne pushed their lead to 42-30 with 16:23 left in the second half.
Then, Michigan went on an 11-0 run cutting Charlotte’s lead to 42-41 when Caris LeVert knocked down a three with 11:43 on the clock. The 49ers maintained a lead of 1-3 points for the next five minutes until LeVert knocked down two free throws giving Michigan a 47-46 lead with 6:12 on the clock.
Williams knocked down a jumper in the lane helping the 49ers regain the lead 48-47 with 5:16 on the clock. Cherry then knocked down a three from the wing pushing Charlotte’s lead to 51-47 with 4:48 on the clock.
Charlotte pushed their lead to five points on several occasions over the next three minutes. With 52 seconds on the clock, Ingram’s jumper in the lane gave the 49ers a 60-55 lead. Michigan scored six of the next seven points tying the score at 61 when Mitch McGary scored inside. McGary, who was a preseason All-American, finished the game with six points and nine rebounds. Then, Williams scored the game-winner with one second on the clock.
Charlotte captured the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Title which marked the second straight season that the 49ers have captured a regular-season tournament title after winning the 2012 Great Alaska Shootout. The 49ers return to Halton Arena for a two-game home stand where they will play UNC Asheville, Sunday, December 1 at 6 pm.
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