Charlotte went into the final week of the regular season looking to put together a winning streak heading into next week’s Conference USA tournament.
The 49ers’ hopes – along with a chance to improve their seeding – took a big hit Thursday with an 88-84 overtime loss to Western Kentucky at Halton Arena.
“I was proud of the way our guys came back at the end and forced overtime,” Charlotte interim coach Ryan Odom said. “We just came up a little short.”
Terrence Williams scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half and overtime for the 49ers (13-17, 6-11), who fought back from an eight-point deficit with 2 minutes remaining to force the extra period.
Braxton Ogbueze added 17 points and Torin Dorn 12 for Charlotte, which dropped to the 12th and final seed in the tournament thanks to Thursday’s loss and Florida International’s 59-54 win against Middle Tennessee.
Still, the 49ers had their chances, going up 77-74 on Keyshawn Woods’ 3-pointer from the corner with 4:38 left in overtime. The Hilltoppers (19-10, 12-5) then scored 12 of the next 14 points.
After Charlotte cut Western Kentucky’s lead back to 86-84 with 28 seconds left on Williams’ 3-pointer and Dorn’s jumper, Brandon Price made two free throws with 18 seconds remaining to seal the win for the Hilltoppers.
George Fant scored 28 for Western Kentucky, which led 39-33 at the half. Chris Harrison-Docks added 18 points, and Trency Jackson and T.J. Price had 13 each.
In the first half, Charlotte looked to be in position to post back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly two months.
The 49ers made their first five shots and 10 of 14 from the field in the opening 111/2 minutes, with Williams’ dunk with 8:22 remaining putting Charlotte up 24-17.
However, Western Kentucky hit four straight 3-pointers to cut the gap, with Harrison-Docks’ third 3-pointer of the half putting the Hilltoppers ahead to stay 29-26 with 5:35 left.
Western Kentucky went on to outscore the 49ers 22-9 over the final 81/2 minutes of the half, taking its biggest lead at 39-31 on Justin Johnson’s tip shot with 42 seconds left.