|Charlotte Loses Double OT Thriller to La Salle, 91-86|
The 49ers, who found themselves with the lead in the final minute of regulation and the final minute of the first overtime, were undone by two areas that had been so kind to them all year. The result: a heartwrenching 91-86 double overtime loss at the hands of visiting La Salle.
Leading by four with 47 seconds left, the A-10's best free throw shooting team hit just 2-of-4 free throws to give La Salle a chance to tie. More remarkably, those four free throws came from the hands of Derrio Green and Deuce Briscoe, who both rank in the A-10's top five at over 80% accuracy from the line.
La Salle (11-11; 3-4), winners of three straight, did tie it at 71-71 on a layup by Ruben Guillandeaux with 21 seconds left. Green's jumper at the buzzer missed, forcing OT #1.
In the first overtime, the 49ers foul shooting continued to hamper their efforts. Charlotte hit just 5-10 from the line in the first overtime but still led by three with 11 seconds left after KJ Sherrill hit 1-of-2 free throws. Here, the 49ers were hurt by the other area that has served them so well. Charlotte ranks 2nd in the A-10 in three-point field goal defense and held La Salle, ranked 2nd in the A-10 in three-point shooting accuracy, to just 4-of-18 threes. (.182). Unfortunately one of those made threes came with 8 seconds left in overtime, a long-ranger from Cole Stefan.
"He's a specialist," said 49ers head coach Alan Major. "That's what he does. They made four and he made three of them, including a couple big ones."
Knotted up after Stefan's three, the 49ers again could not pull out the game-winner, as Green's jumper rattled out.
Stefan opened the second OT with a second big three and La Salle pushed the lead to five, 85-80, with 2:57 left. Still down by 5 with 1:41 to play, the 49ers could get no closer than three in dropping their fourth straight game.
"It's very frustrating," said 49ers junior Javarris Barnett, who scored 19 points, including 16 in the first half. "We know the work we put in in practice. Competing and hustling. But I'm a firm believer. We got better from Duquesne to Temple and from Temple to La Salle."
"Even with the free throw shooting if we defend a little bit better -- If we go down and get some stops," Major said. "There's a toughness level you want to have to take the confidence away from (the opponent)."
Charlotte (9-12; 1-6) was led by sophomore KJ Sherrill, who recorded his first career double-double with a career-best 24 points and 13 rebounds. Sherrill, who missed the 49ers first 10 games with injury, hit 5-of-8 shots and 14-of-18 free throws.
La Salle got double figure points out of each member of its starting five with Earl Pettis and Jerrell Williams leading the way with 17 points apiece. Aaric Murray finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds.
Briscoe added 14 points for the 49ers while Green and An'Juan Wilderness both had 11 points.
La Salle won despite shooting just .377 from the field -- the 49ers first loss when holding an opponent under 40% shooting (6-1). Charlotte shot .343 from the field and .674 from the foul line (31-of-46). La Salle hit 85% of its free throws (29-34).
The 49ers enjoyed a 55-48 rebounding advantage.
This was the 49ers fourth overtime game (1-3), and each of those extra time contests have gone to multiple overtimes.
Charlotte led at the half, 35-28, for just the second time in the last 12 contests.
The 49ers will host Xavier, Wednesday at Halton Arena.