The Charlotte 49ers ran away from the Georgia Southern Eagles in the early stages of the second half and improved to 2-0 after winning Tuesday night in Halton Arena.
Attendance topped 5,810 as those in the arena watched as the Eagles were able to bother the 49ers in the first half running a full-court press and shooting 45 percent from the field. Charlotte went into the locker room at halftime with a three point lead.
The second half was a different story for both teams. Charlotte outscored Georgia Southern 29-19 in the final 20 minutes to earn the victory. Georgia Southern got cold and only managed to make 22.7 percent of their field goal attempts, resulting in a 34.8 percent shooting percentage for the game.
Beginning at the end of the first half and carrying over to the second half, the Eagles went through a scoring drought in which they could not find the bottom of the net for over 10 minutes. Charlotte was able to capitalize off of Georgia Southern’s cold streak and took control of the game.
“We had good balance tonight in terms of guys chipping in with both scoring and minutes. It’s a great team effort and a good win,” said Charlotte Head Coach Alan Major.
After missing the season opener due to a suspension, Charlotte senior forward Chris Braswell led all scorers with 21 points. Braswell, a preseason second-team All- Atlantic 10 selection, added 12 rebounds to complete his 23rd career double-double.
“It just felt like everything was coming to me,” Braswell said. “When I got on the court I just gave all my effort.”
Transfer graduate student JT Thompson saw his first action in a 49er uniform on Tuesday after missing the Charleston Southern game due to an injury. Thompson played 15 minutes, scored four points and collected a couple boards of his own.
49ers guard DeMario Mayfield did not play against Georgia Southern after being suspended last week for violating team rules. The junior is expected to play Saturday against Lamar.
Sophomore forward Eric Ferguson and freshman guard Cleon Roberts led the way for Georgia Southern with 11 points a piece.
The 49ers struggled from behind the arc on Tuesday (1-7, 14.3 percent) but dominated in the paint. Charlotte out-rebounded Georgia Southern 40-19 and held a significant advantage in points in the paint, 34-20.
“I think every team wants to have an identity start to emerge as the season goes on,” Major added. “I think we have really good size on this team and good depth. I thought we had a chance to be a good defensive team, especially when you can play multiple guys to keep your intensity up over the course of the game. You don’t have to worry about defensive droughts.”
Free throw shooting proved to be a big improvement for Major’s team since last Friday’s win against Charleston Southern. Charlotte sunk 23 of their 31 foul shots (74.2%).
The Eagles managed to shoot 70.4 percent from the free throw line for the game despite a cold first half in which they only made 64.3% of their attempts.
As always, sophomore guard Pierria Henry was aggressive for the 49ers. Henry was able to get to the charity stripe often (9-10) and added 13 points to complete his second straight game with double-digit scoring.
Scoring was fairly evenly distributed among 49er players. Freshman forward Willie Clayton played strong defensively and scored eight points to go along with his nine rebounds against Georgia Southern.
Also contributing to Charlotte’s 66 points were Victor Nickerson (seven points), Terrance Williams (six points), Darion Clark (four points), Mike Thorne (two points) and Denzel Ingram (one point).
The 49ers had some trouble taking care of the rock against the Eagles’ full-court pressure, particularly early in the game. Charlotte turned the ball over 19 times resulting in 22 Georgia Southern points.
Charlotte held a 28-9 advantage in bench points, largely due to the fact that Braswell (21 points) was not in the starting line-up against GSU.
Georgia Southern falls to 0-2 on the season after Tuesday evening’s loss. The Eagles will return home to host Webber International University on Friday, Nov. 16.
Charlotte (2-0) will play one more game at home on Saturday, Nov. 17 against Lamar University before heading to Anchorage, Ak to compete in the Great Alaska Shootout.