Through its first four Conference USA games, the Charlotte 49ers’ men’s basketball team has scored at a rapid pace, averaging 86 points.
The 49ers, however, enter Thursday’s game against Louisiana Tech - the first of their three-game homestand - with a 1-3 conference record after not executing at a similar level defensively.
An issue for much of the season, Charlotte’s defense has surrendered a league-worst 89.3 points in conference play. In Saturday’s loss at Marshall, the Thundering Herd scored 110 points, the most the 49ers allowed since a 121-105 loss to South Alabama on Jan. 5, 1991.
That result only caused Charlotte (7-8, 1-3 C-USA) to plummet even lower in the NCAA defensive ranks. Through Monday’s games, the 49ers were 338th (out of 351 Division I schools) nationally in scoring defense.
“A lot of times there will be maybe four guys doing what they’re supposed to do and one guy forgetting an assignment here and there,” said coach Mark Price about his team’s defensive struggles. “Those little things can cost you over the course of a game.
“We’ve got to cut back on those and really be locked into what we’re doing and understanding who we’re guarding. I think we’re getting better that way. It’s just got to be an emphasis moving forward and we’ve got try to continue to improve.”
Such improvements could come with a more concentrated rebounding effort. The 49ers average 32.7 rebounds this season, while its opponents average 40.9. That margin ranks 335th nationally.
Charlotte has made strides on the glass in conference play, as it is averaging 34.5 rebounds. In last Thursday’s loss at Western Kentucky, the 49ers won the rebounding battle (35-28) for the first time this season.
But the 49ers’ conference opponents have still averaged 15 offensive boards, which have led to extended offensive possessions and crippled Charlotte’s defense.
“Just playing good defense is one thing,” Price said. “But to finish the possession, you’ve gotta get the rebound. That’s kind of hurt us all year."
49ers women receive vote in AP poll
With home wins against Western Kentucky and Marshall this past week, the Charlotte women’s basketball team extended its wining streak to nine games.
The 49ers’ recent stretch resulted in them receiving a vote in Monday’s release of the Associated Press poll. This marks the first time since March 4, 2013 that Charlotte (12-3, 4-0) received a vote in the AP poll.
“I think more than anything, that just gives us confidence that the work we’re putting in, the process that we’re following and how we’re trying to improve, we’re seeing some results from that,” coach Cara Consuegra said. “We feel like if we can continue to just focus on what we do every day, the outcome will take care of itself.”