By Mike Leslie, Sports Anchor/Digital Journalist - email
Charlotte, NC (Charlotte49ers.com) – Terrence Williams scored eight of the 49ers final 10 points including the game-winning basket at the buzzer as the Charlotte 49ers (12-5, C-USA: 3-1) defeated North Texas (10-8, C-USA: 1-3), 76-74.
“I am very proud of the guy’s fight,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “Our final play was not anything scientific on the coach’s part. It’s not anything crazy, X's and O's, or tricky type deal, that was your best ball handler making the best decision late in the game. Pierria just made a great decision.”
Charlotte closed the game on a 6-0 run. Denzel Ingram connected on a jump shot with 1:03 on the clock which began the 49ers run. Williams then scored inside off an assist by Henry tying the score at 74 with 42 seconds on the clock. Charlotte’s defense forced a missed shot by North Texas and Willie Clayton grabbed the rebound with 25 seconds on the clock. Then, the 49ers ran the same play that scored the game-winning basket against Michigan in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship game. Henry passed the ball inside to Williams on the baseline with two seconds on the clock. Williams laid the ball in at the buzzer giving the 49ers the victory.
“It was a good feeling,” Williams said. “It was like we were in Puerto Rico again.”
“Charlotte’s point guard (Pierria Henry) made a great play at the end,” North Texas coach Tony Benford said. “They played great defense on the last possession. We have to give them credit. He (Pierria) did a great job drawing help and understanding clock. It was similar to the way he brought them back against Tulsa the other night.”
Williams led the 49ers with 16 points with eight of those points coming in the final four minutes. Henry scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds with three blocked shots and three steals. Clayton recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Shawn Lester scored 11 points off the bench. Ben Cherry scored nine points.
The 49ers finished the game with a 42-28 advantage on points in the paint.
Charlotte began the game by scoring 11 of the game’s first 15 points taking an 11-4 lead when Clayton knocked down a free throw with 16:07 on the clock.
Then, North Texas went on a 9-2 run over the next four minutes tying the score at 13. Charlotte scored six straight points behind baskets by Henry, Clayton and Lester regaining the lead 19-13 with 10:36 on the clock.
Charlotte maintained a lead of several points for the next two minutes until North Texas’ T.J. Taylor connected on two free throws giving North Texas a 22-21 with 8:29 on the clock.
North Texas pushed their lead to four points. With North Texas leading 29-25 with 5:35 on the clock, Charlotte went on a 13-2 run over next three minutes taking a 38-31 lead when Cherry knocked down a three with 2:09 on the clock. North Texas scored six of the final eight points of the first half cutting Charlotte’s halftime lead to 40-37.
North Texas began the second half on a 19-5 run taking a 56-45 lead when Maurice Aniefiok connects on a three with 13:33 on the clock.
With 12:20 on the clock, North Texas led 58-47; the 49ers went on a 10-0 run over the next four minutes cutting the North Texas lead to 58-57 when Lester scored inside with 8:40 on the clock. Marcus Bryan and Lester spurred the 49ers run. Bryan and Lester each scored five points during the 49ers’ run.
However, North Texas maintained the lead and pushed their lead to 70-62 with 5:04 on the clock. Then, the 49ers closed out the game on a 14-4 run capped off by Williams basket at the buzzer.
Charlotte continues Conference USA play when they play Louisiana Tech on the road, Thursday, January 23 at 7:30 pm.
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