College Basketball

Charlotte 49ers struggle with 3-pointers in loss to North Texas

Charlotte's Joseph Uchebo (50) and Braxton Ogbueze (1) track a shot against Marshall during a game in February.
Charlotte's Joseph Uchebo (50) and Braxton Ogbueze (1) track a shot against Marshall during a game in February. The Herald-Dispatch via AP

The Charlotte men’s basketball team entered Saturday night on a three-game winning streak averaging nearly 97 points per game during that span. However, the team’s offensive production faltered and the 49ers fell to North Texas 80-77 Saturday night.

Junior Braxton Ogbueze knocked down a 3-pointer on the opening possession, but from there the 49ers struggled behind the three-point line. Charlotte finished just 4-19 from behind the arc.

Despite the offense struggles, Charlotte narrowly led for almost the entire first half. An 8-0 run by the Mean Green midway through the second half gave North Texas the momentum needed to pull away for the victory.

Down the stretch, North Texas struggled with free throws and turnovers to give the 49ers a chance at a late comeback. Charlotte had three possessions at the end of the game with less than 22 seconds, but was unable to execute.

Three who mattered

Joseph Uchebo: Uchebo was a one man wrecking crew for the 49ers offense, and finished with his 16th double-double of the year with 23 points and 19 rebounds.

Deckie Johnson: Johnson stepped up for the Mean Green in the absence of star forward Jeremy Combs (ankle), and finished with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Eric Katenda: The senior played just six minutes in the first half, but exploded for 16 points in the second half to lead the Mean Green comeback.

Observations

▪ The 49ers had three possessions with less than 22 seconds remaining down just one point, but were unable to capitalize.

▪ Battle of the Big Men – The 49ers had an advantage in the paint all night as Joseph Uchebo (6-foot-10) dominated North Texas’ Rickey Brice Jr. (7-1).

▪ There were six ties and nine lead changes, but North Texas held the lead for just 18:19 compared to 19:58 for Charlotte.

Worth mentioning

▪ The 49ers fell to the No. 7 seed in the Conference USA tournament, and will face No. 10 seed Rice at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Birmingham, Ala.

▪ Charlotte split the regular season series with North Texas after the 49ers defeated the Mean Green at Halton Arena 103-79 earlier in the season.

▪ The Mean Green are hopeful Combs will return for the C-USA tournament next week.

They said it

▪ “Give North Texas credit. They did a good job extending their defense. It’s just one of those things, and you have to move on. We have to regroup now and get ready for the tournament.” – Charlotte coach Mark Price

▪ “We knew we had to step up. I feel like we all did a pretty good job of stepping up and not letting that get us down.” – Katenda on the absence of Combs

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