Charlotte, N.C.- Denzel Ingram scores a career high 20 points off 8-for-10 shooting but Charlotte (8-4) falls 58-55 to ACC foe Georgia Tech (9-4) in Halton Arena on Sunday night.
“It was a very tough game, very physical game,” said Charlotte Coach Alan Major.
The Yellow Jackets built its lead up to nine, 51-42, with 3:01 remaining in the second half off a Trea Golden jumper. Terrence Williams hit one of his two triples to keep the Niners within striking distance of the Yellow Jackets with 2:40 remaining in the contest giving him eight points and cutting the lead down to six, 51-45.
Willie Clayton, scoring in double figures for the 11th straight contest, hits two free throws to spark a 7-2 run with 59 seconds remaining in the game. Clayton finished the game with 11 points, hitting 5-6 from the charity stripe.
“It was a hard fought comeback; the guys never hung their head or gave up,” Major said. “ To be right there at the end with a chance to win it, I am happy with that.”
With time running down in the second half, Shawn Lester hit his only three of the night off a Yellow Jacket turnover with 10.0 seconds remaining in the second half to tie the game up at 55 apiece. Lester’s three capped a 49ers 13-4 run over the final three minutes.
Georgia Tech’s Trea Golden took the in-bound pass the length of the court and hit a contested triple to quiet the crowd with 4.2 seconds remaining in the game. Golden finished the game with a team high 24 points.
“We wanted to make them have a tough contested shot,” Major said. “I thought Denzel Ingram did a good job with that, he did what we asked him to do. Unfortunately he made it.”
Pierria Henry rushes the ball up court for a last second heave towards the basket. The attempt was good for what looked like a potential game tying three but is waved off as the ball was still in his hands just as time expired.
“They are a team that is only going to get better,” said Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory. “They play hard, even when they weren’t shooting the ball well.”
Charlotte snatched 16 offensive and 16 defensive rebounds despite being outrebounded 41-32. Willie Clayton grabbed a team high nine rebounds. Seven of those boards came off the offensive glass. Mike Thorne Jr. grabbed five boards, four on the offensive end.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle between the two squads with neither team grabbing more than a two possession advantage. The first half featured seven lead changes and the largest lead was four posted by Georgia Tech at the 13:21 mark of the first half, 11-7.
Ingram started off the game with the hot hand hitting his first five shots of the night and having 11 points in the first ten minutes. Ingram came into the game averaging 7.9 points a game.
“The ball felt good today,” Ingram said. “I just wanted to attack and get to the rim more than I usually do.”
The Niners took the lead, 20-19, with 5:23 remaining in the first half off Williams’ free throws.
The 49ers’ tenacious defense smothered the Yellow Jackets all night creating 16 turnovers to go with its nine steals. “I thought the guys did a great job being disruptive and creating some turnovers,” stated Coach Major.
Georgia Tech took a 27-24 lead into the half thanks to ten second chance points.
The Yellow Jackets started the second half on a 5-0 run pushing its lead to eight. Ingram stopped the run hitting his second triple of the game with 17:04 remaining. Georgia Tech had an eight point advantage for most of the second half before seeing its lead wind down in the closing seconds of the half.
Charlotte will be back on the court in Halton Arena against North Carolina A&T, Saturday, January 4. Tip-off is at 7 pm on WCCB-Charlotte.
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