An increasingly dreary Charlotte 49ers basketball season might have found a little sunlight on Saturday.
Although the 49ers lost 88-66 to Old Dominion in a Conference USA game at Halton Arena – Charlotte’s sixth loss in a row – freshman Ryan Murphy provided a little hope, if not for this season then perhaps for the future.
Murphy, a 6-foot-2 guard from Calabasas, Calif., scored a game-high 27 points, making 9-of-11 shots and all six of his 3-pointers. It wasn’t nearly enough, as the Monarchs (16-4, 7-1 C-USA) used their size and experience to overpower Charlotte (5-14, 1-7) everywhere else.
“The areas they dominate every night are rebounding and they’re stingy defensively,” said 49ers interim coach Houston Fancher. “We contributed to a lot of that.”
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Without Murphy’s career night, however, it would have been worse than it was.
“The first one felt good, the second one felt good, and they kept feeling good coming out of my hand,” said Murphy, whose playing time has increased recently due to an injury to starter Andrien White. “I’ve been in the gym a lot more recently, with coaches and managers late at night.”
Murphy scored 19 points in the first half, helping the 49ers keep the game close; they trailed just 40-34 at halftime. But the Monarchs kept pounding the 49ers on the boards, eventually doubling them up 38-19. ODU also outscored Charlotte 38-14 in the paint and had a 26-3 advantage in second-chance points.
Three who mattered
Murphy: Charlotte’s freshman guard also had two assists and a steal to add to his 27-point effort. He even faked a Monarchs defender to the floor before hitting a jumper.
Brandan Stith: ODU’s forward pulled down 17 rebounds to go along with 11 points.
Jon Davis: 49ers point guard scored 14 points and supplied Murphy with the ball, adding nine assists. Also had four turnovers.
▪ The Monarchs also punished the 49ers when they turned the ball over, scoring 22 points off 14 Charlotte mistakes.
▪ All three of Charlotte’s post players – Milos Supica, Jailan Haslem and Najee Garvin – picked up three fouls each by halftime.
▪ White missed his third consecutive game with a thumb injury.
▪ The 49ers shot 55 percent from the field. The problem was, nearly everything they missed was snatched away by ODU (19 defensive rebounds, to three offensive rebounds for Charlotte).
▪ The 49ers stay at home this week, although the competition still will be against Conference USA’s best teams. Alabama-Birmingham comes to Halton Arena on Thursday and Middle Tennessee visits Saturday.
“Nobody works harder at his game than Ryan (Murphy) does. He’s got a decent amount of inner swag that he thinks they’re all going in.” – Fancher.
“For the first time (in conference play), we got physically manhandled.” – Fancher.