The Charlotte 49ers have started Conference USA play by winning three of their first four league games.
But it hasn’t been easy.
The 49ers (12-5, 3-1) swept a two-game home stand last week with two come-from-behind victories – 90-86 in overtime against Tulsa and 76-64 against North Texas.
“It’s good to win those close ones, but you also want to get to a point where you’re in command down the stretch,” said Charlotte coach Alan Major, whose team plays at Louisiana Tech (15-4, 3-1) on Thursday. “That’s how you’re going to separate some teams in this league. You want to avoid (chaos). We want to continue to chip away and play better defense.”
Key to the 49ers’ fast start in the league has been the play of junior point guard Pierria Henry, who made critical plays at the ends of both games last week. In conference play, Henry averages 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.8 steals. Not known as a great shooter, Henry is hitting 53.8 percent of his 3-pointers in league play (32.6 percent in all games).
“He’s grown with his communication,” Major said. “He knows what button to push with each teammate and that takes time. It’s an art form. His decision-making has come a long way. His first year, he was more of a guard playing point guard. Now he’s a point guard. He has the ability to make the right play at the right time.”
Major said Henry’s last-second pass to Terrence Williams against North Texas, which Williams converted into a game-winning dunk, was a great example of that.
“He got to the paint, and he actually pivoted twice because he had three guys around him,” Major said. “He could have done something impulsive. But he made a really patient play. His freshman year, he doesn’t make that play.”
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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