College Basketball

Charlotte 49ers unable to close gap with Marshall

Charlotte 49ers guard Andrien White, seen here in a file photo, scored 16 points in Thursday’s 87-72 Conference USA loss at Marshall.
Charlotte 49ers guard Andrien White, seen here in a file photo, scored 16 points in Thursday’s 87-72 Conference USA loss at Marshall. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Marshall led Charlotte wire-to-wire Thursday night inside the Cam Henderson Center en route to an 87-72 win over the 49ers.

James Kelly paced the Herd with 27 points and 23 rebounds while holding Charlotte (10-16, 6-7) big man Joseph Uchebo to less than 10 points for the first time in 16 games. Marshall (14-12, 10-3) shot 42 percent from the field (29-68) and 33.3 percent from long range (12-36) while holding Charlotte to 29.7 percent (8-27).

Austin Loop added 13 points for Marshall, Jon Elmore had 14 points and Stevie Browning added 11 and seven rebounds.

Marshall led 42-31 at the break but Charlotte clawed its way back to within six with 18:11 to go. Marshall responded with a 9-0 run sparked by two Elmore triples and another by Browning to dispatch the 49ers final surge. C.J Burks’ layup with 3:02 remaining gave Marshal its largest lead of the night, 87-63.

Andrian White led Charlotte with 16 points and six rebounds and Braxton Ogbueze added 12.

Three who mattered

James Kelly: Kelly’s stat line speaks for itself but the Herd’s big man’s defense stifled Uchebo much of the night, taking away any inside presence by the 49ers. Uchebo hit only one field goal all night in seven attempts.

Terrance Thompson: With Ryan Taylor collecting two personal fouls in the first three minutes of the contest, Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni needed a lift off the bench and the sophomore provided. All seven of his points came in the first half.

Andrian White: Without his performance tonight, this game easily could have been a 30-point blowout. White was the only consistent offensive threat for the 49ers finishing 7-17 from the field.

Observations

▪ After hitting 10-15 3-pointers in the previous matchup against Marshall, Charlotte struggled to find any rhythm from long range. Marshall’s defense disrupted Charlotte’s offensive much of the night.

▪ Mark Price had no answer for James Kelly. Charlotte used zone, double teams with no avail to slowing the Herd’s post player.

▪ Austin Loop connecting from beyond the arc helped open up the paint for Marshall. Charlotte was forced to keep a hand in his face, not allowing a player to sag off on defense.

▪ When Uchebo left the floor, Charlotte’s defense drastically changed. Uchebo’s length disrupted Elmore’s path to the basket, but Price couldn’t find any backup when the senior was forced to the bench.

Worth mentioning

▪ James Kelly’s 23 rebounds was the most by a Herd player since Rodney Holden’s 22 during the 1986 season. He fell only one short of tying the NCAA season high of 24 by Nevada’s Cameron Oliver.

▪ With the win, Marshall snapped a four-game losing streak to Charlotte including winning for the first time at home over the 49ers since Feb. 19, 1972.

▪ It was the first time since Jan. 28, 2016 Charlotte had only two players in double-figures.

They said it

▪ “I really took this one personal. I did not do well on rebounds last game (against Charlotte), and so I had to get the rebounds tonight.” – Kelly on his career-best rebounding effort.

▪ “I thought we saw what he is capable of doing. He scored, rebounded and defended very well tonight. Terrence Thompson has provided us with quality minutes off of the bench. He is a great rebounder and continues to improve in our system. C.J. Burks gave us a solid performance tonight as well.” – Dan D’Antoni on the win.

▪ “He’s just a monster. As a player, he’s a matchup nightmare. He obviously had a monster game tonight and we had no answer for him.” – Mark Price on Marshall’s James Kelly.

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