As soon as the buzzer sounded Tuesday night inside Halton Arena, the USC Upstate men’s basketball team started basking in its 108-103 overtime victory against Charlotte.
Even though a 4-0 start for the 49ers seemed likely just a few minutes before, the 11-point lead the team blew in the final 4 minutes, 42 seconds of the game reminded fans of some of the early struggles from a season ago as they watched the Spartans celebrate.
Behind redshirt senior Braxton Ogbueze, Charlotte (3-1) jumped out to a 50-41 lead at halftime, marking the most points scored by the 49ers in the first half this season. That didn’t deter the Spartans (3-2).
Throughout the second half, USC Upstate fell behind by double digits, only to trim Charlotte’s lead back to single digits moments later. But the game seemed out of reach once Benas Griciunas’ layup put the 49ers up 80-69 with less than five minutes left.
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The Spartans quickly responded, however, going on an 12-0 run to seize a one-point lead with less than two minutes left.
While Charlotte ultimately got the stops it needed to force overtime, it couldn’t do the same in extra time, allowing 19 points to the Spartans.
Three who mattered
Ogbueze: After making five 3-pointers in his first three games of the season, the redshirt senior made six of his first seven attempts. He finished with a game-best 30 points.
Michael Buchanan: USC Upstate’s senior center dominated inside, registering a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds.
Malik Moore: The Spartans’ sophomore forward scored all 15 of his points in the second half and overtime.
▪ The 49ers didn’t force a turnover during the first 4:27, but after starting to press following the first media timeout, Charlotte turned six turnovers into 11 points in the remainder of the first half.
▪ The Spartans controlled the boards, outrebounding the 49ers 47-35. USC Upstate’s 14 offensive rebounds led to 20 second-chance points.
▪ Until the waning minutes of the game, Charlotte displayed good ball movement. The 49ers recorded 12 assists in the first half and ultimately finished with 23, six more than their previous season high.
▪ In an effort to monitor his usage, sophomore guard Andrien White, who broke a bone on his left foot during the team’s August exhibition trip to Canada, subbed out of the game after the first media timeout of the second half and didn’t return until 2:31 left in regulation. He scored eight of his 17 points after returning.
▪ Charlotte entered Tuesday having made double-digit 3-pointers in each of its first three games. The 49ers made it four consecutive games by making 10 shots from behind the arc in the first half. They made only five for the rest of the game.
They said it
“It’s a disappointing. We know what lies ahead of us on Saturday, and we’ve got to get back to the drawing board. I thought we made some progress on the defensive end of the floor after the East Carolina game, and we took a step back tonight.” – Charlotte coach Mark Price.