The Charlotte 49ers closely followed the script against 17th-ranked Miami on Tuesday. It almost worked.
With the 49ers daring the Hurricanes to beat them from the perimeter, Miami did just that in a 77-74 victory in front of a lively crowd of 7,163 at Halton Arena.
The Hurricanes, who beat the 49ers by 19 points Sunday in the championship game of the Charleston Classic by pounding the ball inside, made 14-of-23 3-point attempts Tuesday. That was enough to hold off the 49ers (3-2), who trailed by 13 points with 5 minutes, 20 seconds to play.
But Charlotte rallied. It wasn’t until 49ers guard Braxton Ogbueze missed a potential tying free throw with 9.7 seconds left and a 3-point attempt with two seconds remaining that the Hurricanes were safe.
“As a team, we stuck to our game plan, but they made their shots,” said Ogbueze. “Credit to them. They were tough shots.”
That Ogbueze was playing was somewhat of a surprise. He hyperextended and bruised his right knee early in Sunday’s game.
The 49ers were much more competitive with Ogbueze in the lineup.
Sunday, the Hurricanes had outscored Charlotte 44-30 in the paint and had 21 second-chance points – areas of dominance the 49ers wanted to avoid Tuesday.
This time Charlotte outscored Miami 44-24 in the paint and 12-9 on second-chance points. But Miami’s long-range shooting was the difference.
Charlotte jumped to a nine-point lead in the first half, keeping the bigger Hurricanes away from the basket. Then Miami’s outside game began to heat up, with guards Sheldon McClellan (31 points with 5-of-7 3-point shooting), Manu Lecomte (18 with 4-of-5 3-point shooting) and Angel Rodriguez (14 with 4-of-7 3-point shooting) doing most of the damage.
Still, Charlotte scratched back, with chances to tie it twice during the final 30 seconds. After an Ogbueze 3-pointer cut Miami’s lead to 75-72 with 1:04 left, point guard Pierria Henry missed a 3-point attempt on Charlotte’s next possession. Then, after Rodriguez missed a free throw, Ogbueze was fouled while taking a 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left. He made the first two but missed the third.
Center Mike Thorne and freshman guard Torin Dorn led the 49ers with 17 points each. Ogbueze added 13. Henry, who continues to struggle with his shot, scored four points but had 11 rebounds and nine assists.
The Hurricanes, who were playing their fifth game away from home in 11 days, were behind for much of the first half. They took the lead for the first time on a 3-pointer by Rodriguez with 2:26 seconds left. Long-distance shooting (Miami was 7-of-14) and rebounding (the Hurricanes had a 20-13 edge) kept the visitors in the game.
“A lot of credit goes to Charlotte,” said Miami coach Jim Larranaga. “They played so hard. They were relentless in their pursuit of us. They outran us.”
Tuesday was a “non-bracketed” Charleston Classic game. Teams are allowed to play a fourth tournament game and not have it count against the overall number of regular-season games they are permitted to play.
The 49ers will play again Sunday at UNC Asheville. The Hurricanes will be at home Friday against South Alabama.