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Charlotte 49ers top UTSA with early shooting

Charlotte is all too familiar with the sting of tough losses this season, especially on the road. On Saturday afternoon, the 49ers experienced the satisfaction of an impressive road win.

Charlotte used hot outside shooting early and a dogged effort on the boards late to upend Texas-San Antonio 89-81 at the Convocation Center for just its fourth road win of the season.

“This is really a good thing to build off of,” 49ers senior guard Terrence Williams said. “They’ve been playing good the last couple of games and we came in here and got a win – it’s a confidence boost for us.”

After failing to score in Charlotte’s previous game, Torin Dorn had a team-high 22 points to lead four players in double figures. Williams had a career-high 21 points.

The Roadrunners had won three straight, including an upset of Old Dominion on Thursday, but could not sustain that momentum in Conference USA against the determined 49ers.

Charlotte (11-14, 4-8) was 9 for 16 on 3-pointers and shot 55 percent overall in snapping a two-game skid. The 49ers finished with 12 assists, but had numerous secondary passes that led to open jumpers, especially early.

“We shot the ball extremely well,” 49ers coach Ryan Odom said. “I thought our guys were very unselfish with the way we played.”

Charlotte was 6 for 9 on 3-pointers in the first half while shooting 58 percent from the field overall.

Williams had 12 points in the first half, making both of his 3-point attempts in reaching double figures for the second consecutive game.

“It was just confidence,” Williams said. “Having confidence in each other, having confidence in yourself. If you’ve got an open shot, take it; if you don’t, swing it and if the other person has the open shot, he takes it. We’ve got confidence our players are going to make the shot.”

The 49ers outside shooting cooled slightly in the second half, but they maintained their lead with a frenetic effort on the boards.

On consecutive possessions Mike Thorne Jr. tipped in a missed shot between three UTSA defenders and Dorn gathered a loose offensive rebound and slammed it in for a 54-44 lead with 16:16 remaining that resulted in a Roadrunners timeout.

Two minutes later, Thorne scored after the 49ers missed three straight shots. Dorn could not control an alley-oop pass and missed a layup, Williams grabbed the deflected rebound but barely drew iron on a floater that Thorne rebounded among several players. Thorne was fouled on his layup attempt, making both free throws to give Charlotte a 58-48 lead with 14:30 remaining.

“Just playing hard,” Williams said. “We know we’re coming in an environment like this against a team playing good, we just need to get to the offensive board to get second-chance points.”

UTSA chipped away at the lead, pulling within 85-81 with less than a minute remaining behind two three-point plays and going 4 of 4 on free throws.

Charlotte was able to hold on, going 5 for 6 on free throws in the final 70 seconds.

“We’ve been in that situation every game this season basically,” Williams said. “We just wanted to stay poised. We knew what we had to do just to come out victorious.”

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