Charlotte, NC – Behind eight three-point field goals and a strong defensive effort, the Charlotte 49ers (14-7, C-USA: 5-3) defeated FIU (11-11, C-USA: 3-4), 73-61, in Halton Arena.
"I thought we did a really good job setting the tone to start the second half,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “Defensively I thought we had a really good first half."
Charlotte’s defense limited FIU to 21 first half points and 38.5% shooting from the field and 8.3% shooting from beyond the arc for the game.
Ben Cherry paced five 49ers in double-figures with 17 points.
“Once I hit the first two threes, I kind of had a feeling it was going to be a good night,” Cherry said. “Especially with the way we were playing defense getting out on break that is most of the times where I get my shots.”
Cherry went 6-for-8 from the field including going 5-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“When you have one guy on the roster that can be a knock down guy like that at any given point in the game,” Major said. “He is one or two shots away from cracking the game open. Ben has been a tremendous addition to our team. He has been everything we expected and more.”
Willie Clayton recorded his 20th straight double-figure scoring game with 13 points. He nearly recorded another double-double with a team-high nine rebounds. Shawn Lester recorded his 15th double-figure scoring game off the bench with 13 points. Lester went 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Mike Thorne recorded his 11th double-figure scoring game with 12 points. Pierria Henry scored 10 points and dished out seven assists with two steals.
The two teams exchanged the lead several times with three ties over the first five minutes. With the game tied at nine with 15 minutes on the clock, the 49ers went on an 8-2 run capped by a Henry jumper giving the 49ers a 17-11 lead with 11:07 on the clock.
FIU went on an 8-2 run of their own tying the scoring a 19 when Dennis Mavin scored inside with 6:47 on the clock.
Charlotte closed out the first half on an 11-2 run taking a 30-21 halftime lead after Cherry knocked down a three late in first half. Charlotte’s run ending the first half was spurred on by two threes by Lester and a layup by Clayton.
Charlotte began the second half on a 15-4 run over the first three and half minutes taking a 45-25 lead when Clayton completed a three-point play with 16:29 on the clock. Cherry started the run with two threes. Terrence Williams and Thorne also scored during the 49ers run.
The 49ers maintained a lead of 17-20 points for the next six minutes. Then, FIU went on a 7-0 run cutting the 49ers lead to 52-39 when Dominique Williams knocked down a three with 10:29 on the clock.
A three by Lester and a baseline jumper by Denzel Ingram ended the FIU run pushing the 49ers lead to 57-39 with 9:46 on the clock.
The 49ers maintained a lead for 13-17 points for the next six minutes until three straight free throws by FIU’s Mann cut Charlotte’s lead to 65-55 with 3:15 on the clock.
With 2:25 left in the second half, the 49ers led 67-57; Charlotte closed out the game by scoring six of the final 10 points closing out a 73-61 victory. Lester scored Charlotte’s final four points.
Charlotte returns to action when they play Tulane on the road, Friday, February 7 at 8 pm.
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