When facing the teams they should likely beat, the Charlotte men’s basketball team often looks like an offensive juggernaut capable of hanging with most teams in the country.
As has been a trend throughout this season, however, the 49ers have suffered disappointing defeats when they’ve faced stiffer competition.
That trend continued Monday night at Halton Arena, where Charlotte lost for the first time this season in Conference USA, falling 89-70 to Rice.
The Owls (11-4, 1-1) seized the lead on the game’s first possession and never looked back, as Egor Koulechov and Connor Cashaw combined for 24 points in the first half. Cashaw’s layup with 3 minutes, 29 seconds left before the break handed the Owls a 13-point lead.
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Then, for a brief moment, the 49ers (7-6, 1-1) showed signs of life. Charlotte went on an 8-0 run, holding Rice scoreless for the remainder of the half, and entered halftime trailing 38-33.
The Owls asserted themselves immediately, though, once the second half began, going on a 9-0 run that ultimately put the game out of reach. The 49ers pulled within nine points with about 13 1/2 minutes left, but it never overcame the outburst.
Three who mattered
Marcus Evans, Rice: After finishing the first half with just four points, he scored 21 in the second and led all players with 25.
Koulechov, Rice: He finished with a double-double, scoring 18 points and hauling in 11 rebounds. The redshirt junior went 3-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Jon Davis, Charlotte: The sophomore guard finished with a team-best 23 points, marking his seventh 20-point game of the season.
▪ Ranked second and third on the team in points per game, respectively, Charlotte’s Andrien White and Braxton Ogbueze combined for two points while going 0-for-10 from the field.
▪ The 49ers entered Monday shooting 39.2 percent on 3-pointers, which ranked first in the conference and 49th nationally. Charlotte never found its stride from behind the arc against Rice and finished 3-for-13 (23.1 percent).
▪ One of the few bright spots for Charlotte was its bench, which outscored Rice 35-10. Freshman Quentin Jackson led the charge, scoring a career-high 19 points.
▪ Davis left the game with five minutes left with an apparent left ankle injury. He was able to get up under his own power before walking to the locker room. After the game, he said he was fine.
▪ Since returning to C-USA prior to the 2013-14 season, Charlotte has yet to open conference play with a 2-0 record.
▪ The 49ers’ loss breaks a four-game winning streak against Rice; Charlotte went 3-0 against the Owls a season ago.
They said it
“We’ve got to learn how to take our punches better. It seems like every time a team hits us, we don’t hit back. That’s what happens when you play good teams.” – Davis.