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Charlotte 63, Xavier 57

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Niners bounce back, topple Musketeers

Four days after suffering their first loss of the Atlantic 10 conference season, the Charlotte 49ers dealt the same blow to Xavier.

The 49ers topped the Musketeers 63-57 on Wednesday night in Halton Arena, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty.

Shooting 48 percent from the line and turning the ball over 19 times, Charlotte prevailed in the back-and-forth affair with sound defense against Xavier’s forwards and strong guard play from both Denzel Ingram and DeMario Mayfield.

“It was a typical A10 wrestling match, physical,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “But I thought our guys did a good job of staying with it, especially in the first half when we got off to a bit of a rocky start.”

Xavier (11-7, 4-1) entered the game unbeaten in A10 play, while Charlotte (16-3, 4-1) had fallen to Richmond by 20 points over the weekend. The victory against Xavier is the 49ers’ best conference victory of the young A10 season.

Down 37-36 after a bevy of lead changes in the first five minutes of the second half, Charlotte went on a 13-2 run that forced a Xavier timeout.

Mayfield had just two points in the first half on 1-of-4 shooting, but he shined in the second half against Xavier’s Semaj Christon. The junior guard had 11 points in the second half to propel the 49ers to the win.

Mayfield’s first half was on par with the rest of the 49ers, though. For a 10-minute stretch in the first half, the 49ers were abysmal from the field. Chris Braswell made it 8-6 with 15:21 left in the game. Eight minutes and 50 seconds elapsed before Ingram made the next bucket from the field, pulling the 49ers within 15-13.

“I thought the guys did a good job of not attaching a dry spell to their defense,” Major said. “They kept defending. Sometimes as a team you can miss a few shots and you start to not play as hard; that to me was great.

“The thing I’m happy about the most is the guys didn’t quit defending even when the ball didn’t go in, and that’s a good sign of maturing.”

As poorly as Charlotte shot from the field, the 49ers were worse from the free-throw line. Charlotte entered the game shooting 65.4 percent from the line but went 4-for-12 from the stripe in the first half and 14-for-29 in the game.

Ingram was a catalyst for the 49ers’ comeback in the first half, going 4-for-6 – including two clutch 3-pointers – to lead Charlotte with 10 points at the break. The freshman guard hit his first 3-pointer with 3:22 left in the half to give Charlotte a 23-22 lead, its first since the game was 8-6, and his second came in the final minute to give Charlotte its 28-27 lead heading into halftime.

“I wanted to give my team a spark,” Ingram said. “The ball felt good today so I was just letting it go.”

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