But Charlotte has fallen on hard times recently. Since the 2006-07 season, the 49ers have had only two winning seasons and one postseason appearance, the 2008 NIT. So when Charlotte knocked off Davidson on the Wildcats home court for their eighth consecutive win, I featured them in my Four on the Floor weekly segment series and made plans to travel up north to see them yesterday as they hosted Central Michigan.
The last time I was at Halton Arena was the start of the 2006-07 season when they hosted Hofstra. Both teams had made the NIT the season before. Hopes were high for Hofstra fans going into the season as they were the favorites to win the CAA. But the 49ers used their size advantage to knock off the Pride 88-82.
Central Michigan made their first shot attempt, but would then not score another basket until seven minutes later as they missed their next seven shots. However, the Chippewas came out in a zone and forced the 49ers to shoot from the outside and Charlotte struggled as a result. Thus the score was tied at 13-13 nine minutes into the game.
The 49ers were still up seven 27-20 with a little more than three minutes left. But the Chippewas, realizing that they couldn’t score in the paint, went long range on the 49ers. Chris Fowler assisted on two three pointers, the second by Blake Hibbitts and the game was tied at 27. Charlotte scored the last four points to go up 31-27 at the half.
Speaking of a Green Wave, the tide started going the way of the 49ers in the second half. Charlotte outscored Central Michigan 14-2 over a period of five minutes. The 49ers finally started hitting their shots from beyond the arc, hitting four three pointers in the first nine minutes. DeMario Mayfield’s second three pointer of the half put Charlotte up 51-38 with 11:15 left in the game.
Central Michigan refused to go away and continued to make shots from long distance, similar to the large t-shirt Gatling gun used during a media timeout. Over the next seven and a half minutes, the Chippewas hit four three pointers. The last of which, a Hibbits three point shot, cut the 49ers lead to six, 64-58 with 3:40 left.
But Charlotte scored eight straight points, including two three pointers of their own to put the game out of reach. A Braswell layup made the score 72-58. Charlotte would eventually win 78-66.
Mayfield led Charlotte with fifteen points, while Denzel Ingram added thirteen points and Willie Clayton had ten points and nine rebounds. Braswell had eight points and twelve rebounds. The 49ers shot forty nine percent from the field and had twenty three assists and only nine turnovers.
The 5,263 in attendance got to see the team’s ninth straight win. The 49ers have five more non conference games before they start A-10 play against LaSalle at Halton Arena on January 9. If the 49ers can win at Miami and defeat Florida State in a neutral site game, they have a good chance entering conference play undefeated. In the very competitive Atlantic Ten, every win is needed if you want to get back to the NCAA Tournament after a seven year drought.