College Basketball

Charlotte 49ers fall to FIU in CUSA action

It wasn’t just Florida International’s 13-of-21 blitz from behind the three-point arc that beat Charlotte Saturday night, said 49ers interim head coach Ryan Odom.

“There are nights when you can live with giving up 13 threes,” Odom said after the visiting Panthers held off a second-half Charlotte rally to beat the 49ers 78-70 at Halton Arena.

“But if you’re giving up points in the paint too, you’re in trouble. We put too much pressure on our offense.”

Sophomore Braxton Ogbueze scored 18 points, junior Mike Thorne Jr. added 16 and freshman Torin Dorn chipped in 13, but it wasn’t enough to help the 49ers (9-12, 3-6 C-USA) overcome an 18-point second half deficit.

Charlotte lost for the fourth time in five games.

“We gave ourself a chance to win,” Ogbueze said. “We’ve just got to try harder, get more loose balls, dig down deeper.”

Dennis Maven scored 19 of his game-high 24 points in the first half to lead Florida International (10-10, 3-4), which broke a two-game losing streak.

Charlotte was able to score 13 straight points and trim the lead to 69-64 on Willie Clayton’s layup with 4:07 left.

“”Their transition offense in the first half was what got us, and when a team starts making shots like they did, the contested ones start to go in. But our guys never quit. We had a solid effort in the second half.”

The 49ers couldn’t get any closer than five, missing their last six shots from the field.

Charlotte led for the first eight minutes of the game, taking its biggest lead at 12-6 on Thorne Jr.’s layup. But the Panthers went on an 11-3 run to take their first lead at 17-15 on a fast break layup by Mavin with 11:19 left in the half.

Charlotte briefly got the lead back at 20-17 on Ivan Benkovic’s three-pointer, but FIU grabbed control of the game with a 12-3 run.

At the end of it, the Panthers were up 38-28 with three minutes to go before halftime and they took a 44-31 lead to intermission.

Pierra Henry had 12 rebounds for Charlotte, which was outrebounded 40-29.

NOTES: The 49ers take a break from C-USA play for their next game, against North Carolina A&T at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Halton Arena. The next three C-USA games are on the road, at Old Dominion Saturday, at Texas-El Paso Feb. 12 and Texas-San Antonio on Feb. 14

Related stories from Charlotte Observer