College Sports

Western Kentucky too much for Charlotte 49ers

Charlotte 49ers point guard Jon Davis, right, scored 16 of his team’s 23 first-half points against Western Kentucky on Thursday at Halton Arena.
Charlotte 49ers point guard Jon Davis, right, scored 16 of his team’s 23 first-half points against Western Kentucky on Thursday at Halton Arena.

The Charlotte 49ers entered their Conference USA opener Thursday against Western Kentucky even more shorthanded than usual.

With guard Malik Martin (knee) a late scratch, the already woefully thin 49ers fell 68-50 to the Hilltoppers before a crowd of 3,019 at Halton Arena.

Martin, Charlotte’s second-leading scorer, joined fellow freshman Cooper Robb (foot) on the bench as the 49ers fell to 3-9 overall and 0-1 in the league. The absence of Martin and Robb (who could return next week) meant the 49ers dressed just eight players – two of them walk-ons.

Charlotte 49ers vs WKU basketball - 1.3.19-3
Charlotte 49ers senior center Jailen Haslem (0) and Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassy (23) during Thursday’s Conference USA men’s basketball game at Halton Arena. Benjamin Robson

Western Kentucky, one of C-USA’s preseason favorites, improved to 8-6.

Charlotte 49ers senior point guard Jon Davis scored 24 points, accounting for nearly half of his team’s output. So without Martin, who was averaging 9.5 points, the lack of offensive options for first-year coach Ron Sanchez was even more pronounced. Freshman forward Dravon Mangum responded with 12 points, all of them coming in the second half.

“We have two options,” Sanchez said. “We can mope and make excuses, or we can put our heads down and find a solution. We’re going to grow and improve, that’s a fact. I say that after an ‘L’ or after a ‘W.’ It’s something we’ve got to navigate.”

The 49ers stayed with the Hilltoppers (8-6, 1-0) for much of the first half. Charlotte, in fact, led 17-15 on a 3-pointer by guard Jaylan McGill that just beat the shot-clock’s buzzer with 7 minutes, 22 seconds left in the first half.

But the Hilltoppers closed the half on an 19-8 run and took a 34-25 lead into the locker room.

Western Kentucky made 12 of 28 3-point shots. The Hilltoppers were averaging 5.3 made 3-pointers entering the game.

Three who mattered

Charles Bassey, WKU: Hilltoppers freshman center, one of the top recruits in the country, had 11 points and five rebounds, below his averages of 14.5 points and 9.1 rebounds.

Davis, Charlotte: Had to shoulder the load for the 49ers – again – scoring 24 points and adding five rebounds.

Jared Savage Banton, WKU: Hilltoppers guard hit 4 of 6 3-pointers, scoring 13 points.

Worth mentioning

▪ Sanchez said the decision not to play Martin was made Wednesday night. Neither Martin nor Cooper will play Saturday against Marshall, but Sanchez said they’ll be evaluated next week before road games against Florida International and Florida Atlantic. Robb has already missed six games.

▪ Western Kentucky led 34-25 at halftime, mostly on the strength of 6-of-14 3-point shooting. WKU also had a 10-5 edge in points off turnovers (Charlotte had seven turnovers in the first half).

▪ Davishad 18 of the 49ers’ 25 points at halftime. No other Charlotte player had more than three points ( McGill).

▪ Charlotte’s injuries have forced Sanchez to play two walk-ons: junior guard John Kitoko and sophomore forward Bo Blight (South Mecklenburg High).

▪ Charlotte’s Robb and Western Kentucky’s Jake Ohmer were teammates at Scott County (Ky.) High.

▪ Western Kentucky’s best nonconference performance came in an 83-76 victory against 15th-ranked Wisconsin.

W. KENTUCKY 68, CHARLOTTE 50

W. Kentucky

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Bassey

21

4-5

2-2

5

2

11

Anderson

25

2-5

0-0

4

2

4

Banton

24

4-5

2-2

4

0

10

Hollingsworth

27

3-8

0-0

7

0

7

Savage

29

4-7

1-2

6

2

13

Ohmer

26

4-7

0-0

2

1

12

Smith

17

1-3

2-4

3

2

4

Gambrell

16

1-5

0-0

1

1

3

Diagne

13

1-3

0-0

2

2

3

Horton

2

0-0

1-2

0

1

1

Totals

200

24-48

8-12

34

13

68

Percentages: FG .500, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 12-28, .429 (Savage 4-6, Ohmer 4-7, Bassey 1-1, Diagne 1-3, Hollingsworth 1-4, Gambrell 1-5, Anderson 0-1, Banton 0-1). Team Rebounds: 1. Team Turnovers: 11 (15 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (Bassey 2, Smith 2, Anderson). Turnovers: 11 (Bassey 3, Smith 3, Gambrell 2, Savage 2, Banton). Steals: 4 (Banton, Bassey, Gambrell, Ohmer). Technical Fouls: None.

Charlotte

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

F

Pt

Mangum

30

4-7

1-3

3

1

12

Supica

17

2-5

1-2

1

3

5

Davis

33

8-17

4-4

5

0

24

McGill

29

1-4

1-2

1

1

4

Younger

35

1-6

0-0

0

3

2

Haslem

20

1-3

0-0

4

2

2

Kitoko

20

0-2

0-0

1

0

0

Blight

16

0-4

1-2

4

3

1

Totals

200

17-48

8-13

19

13

50

Percentages: FG .354, FT .615. 3-Point Goals: 8-26, .308 (Davis 4-10, Mangum 3-5, McGill 1-3, Kitoko 0-2, Blight 0-3, Younger 0-3). Team Rebounds: 4. Team Turnovers: 7 (5 PTS). Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 7 (Davis 4, Haslem 2, Mangum). Steals: 3 (Supica 2, McGill). Technical Fouls: None.

W. Kentucky

34

34

68

Charlotte

25

25

50

A—3,019 (9,105).

  Comments