Charlotte 49ers senior point guard Pierria Henry knew exactly what his 3-point shooting statistics were entering Sunday’s game against UNC Asheville at Kimmel Arena.
“One-for-17,” Henry said minutes after hitting his 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded, giving the 49ers a 66-63 overtime victory against the Bulldogs. “It’s been tough. But I’ve been putting a lot of time into it and my teammates have never lost confidence in me.”
Henry’s unlikely game winner – he already had missed five of his first six 3-point attempts – helped Charlotte overcome strong individual efforts by UNC Asheville guard Andrew Rowsey, the nation’s leading scorer who had 27 points, and 7-foot center Jaleel Roberts (10 blocked shots).
The 49ers (4-2) also rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit. They got it to overtime, when the Bulldogs (2-4) tied it at 63 on a layup by forward Kem Ubaru with 7.6 seconds left.
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With the clock winding down, Henry brought the ball upcourt. As defenders retreated – tempting Henry to drive the lane where Roberts was protecting the rim – he instead pulled up and sank his 3-pointer as time expired.
Charlotte coach Alan Major said that despite Henry’s shooting struggles, he was Charlotte’s first option.
“He’s our most experienced guy,” said Major. “The idea was for him to drive and get fouled. But the entire defense backed up and gave him room. Besides, we didn’t have anybody who was shooting well. It wasn’t like we had a guy who was going off from 3.”
Indeed, the 49ers did struggle with their shooting, making 31.2 percent of their shots from the floor and going 6-of-27 from long range. Charlotte also made things tough on itself by going 12-of-26 from the free-throw line.
“We’re not getting any rhythm, we’re not comfortable,” said Henry, who finished with eight points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. “We’re too robotic. We’re not finding our right shots now.”
The 49ers stayed in it thanks to their offensive rebounding. Charlotte had a 25-11 edge in that department and outscored UNC Asheville 27-7 on second-chance points. Center Mike Thorne and power forward Willie Clayton had double-doubles: Thorne with 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds; Clayton with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 25-15 lead, getting there by making five of their first nine 3-point attempts and Roberts swatting away just about everything that came to the rim.
But Charlotte, thanks mostly to Braxton Ogbueze (15 points) and freshman Torin Dorn (13), stayed close and cut the UNC Asheville lead to 31-28 at halftime.
The score was 61-61 late in overtime when the 49ers got the ball off a turnover by the Ubaru. Henry found Dorn on a lob and dunk during a fast break, giving the 49ers a two-point lead with 24 seconds left. After Ubaru tied it with 7.6 seconds left, Henry took over.
“I’ve put a lot of time into my shot,” said Henry. “My teammates have been telling me they’re good shots, they’re just not falling.”
This one did.