By Mike Leslie, Sports Anchor/Digital Journalist - email
Charlotte, NC (Charlotte49ers.com) – Shawn Lester scored a career-high tying 24 points as the Charlotte 49ers (13-7, C-USA: 4-3) defeated Florida Atlantic (7-14, C-USA: 2-4), 62-53, behind a strong defensive effort in Halton Arena.
“A hard fought game tonight,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “Everyone chipped in which is great. I thought Shawn Lester did a great job. It started in the morning shoot around. He was very focused tonight.”
Lester recorded his second double-double of the season with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds. Lester went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc and 4-for-5 from the free throw line. Willie Clayton recorded his 19th straight double-figure scoring game with 13 points. Pierria Henry with another solid all-around game with nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Lester on grabbing double-figure rebounds: “Seeing Willie fighting and getting all the rebounds; I just wanted to see how it feels.”
The 49ers behind the scoring of Lester finished the game with a 28-4 advantage in bench points. Charlotte also enjoyed a 26-22 advantage in points in the paint. Charlotte also enjoyed a solid night at the free throw line after going 16-for-20 from the line.
Florida Atlantic began the game on a 10-3 run over the first five minutes. Charlotte went on a 10-3 run over the next three minutes tying the score at 13 when Lester scored inside with 11:19 on the clock.
The lead exchanged hands several times with several ties over the next six minutes. With Florida Atlantic leading 22-17 with 5:42 on the clock, the 49ers closed out the first half on a 10-4 run taking a 27-26 halftime lead after Lester’s tip-in with 48 seconds on the clock.
Florida Atlantic scored the first four points of the second half taking a 30-27 lead when Pablo Bertone scored with 17:42 on the clock. Bertone led Florida Atlantic with 20 points.
Clayton converted a three-point play and a Ben Cherry three gave the 49ers a 33-30 lead with 16:49 on the clock.
The lead exchanged hands several times over the next six and half minutes until Lester knocked down a three from the wing giving the 49ers the lead for good 45-43 with 7:49 on the clock. The 49ers pushed their lead to six points, 50-44, after another Lester three and two free throws by Terrence Williams with 5:38 on the clock. The 49ers maintained a lead of 3-5 points for the next three minutes.
Florida Atlantic’s Marquan Botley hit a long three cutting Charlotte’s lead to 54-52 with 2:59 on the clock. Then, Charlotte closed out the victory with a timely free throw shooting and timely defense. Charlotte ended the game on a 8-1 run. All nine points were scored at the free throw line.
Charlotte continues their two-game home stand when they play FIU in Halton Arena, Saturday, February 1 at 7 pm.
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