At times during its winless three-game road trip, the Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team showed it could hang with some of Conference USA’s stiffest competition, if only for stretches.
A lack of resiliency led to losses in all three games, as Charlotte failed to respond in the face of adversity.
But on Thursday night at Halton Arena, the 49ers played with a level of fortitude that has been missing for most of this season en route to a 83-77 win over Western Kentucky.
Charlotte (12-14, 6-9 C-USA) entered halftime leading 38-30 and extended that edge to 14 points within the first three minutes of the second half. Western Kentucky (13-15, 7-8 C-USA) quickly responded.
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An 18-3 run by the Hilltoppers handed them their first lead of the game at 53-52. Over the past couple of weeks, such a stretch often doomed the 49ers. That, however, wasn’t the case Thursday.
Charlotte regained the lead moments later and never surrendered it despite Western Kentucky tying the game three times.
The 49ers led by three points with less than a minute left when senior Reid Aube came up with back-to-back offensive rebounds that ultimately led to a pair of Braxton Ogbueze free throws to put the game away.
Three who mattered
Jon Davis, Charlotte: After scoring five points in the first half, he poured in 18 in the second to finish with a team-best 23. He also registered a season-high four steals.
Ogbueze, Charlotte: He scored all 13 of his points in the first half on 3-for-4 shooting from behind the arc.
Pancake Thomas, Western Kentucky: He kept the Hilltoppers afloat in the first half, scoring 16 points on 6-for-6 shooting. He finished with a team-best 23.
▪ The 49ers finished with 25 points off turnovers, tying their season-high set in a win against Oregon State on Dec. 3.
▪ Western Kentucky went 8-for-18 at the free-throw line.
▪ Redshirt junior guard Austin Ajukwa was forced to wear a protective mask after breaking his nose during practice earlier this week. He finished with 15 points.
▪ The 49ers were without redshirt junior guard Hudson Price, who sat out because of an illness.
They said it
“The thing we’ve talked about as a team is being more resilient when that stuff happens. I didn’t see any heads drop; I didn’t see any glaze over the eyes. I saw a determined group go out there and get a win tonight.” – Mark Price on his team weathering Western Kentucky’s second-half surge.