Charlotte, NC – Behind four double-figure scorers, the Charlotte 49ers (1-0) defeated ETSU (0-1), 80-75, in their season opener in Halton Arena. With the victory, the 49ers improve to 34-15 all-time in season openers.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “East Tennessee is a very good basketball team. Coach Bartow has obviously, done a tremendous job there for a long time. They are an up-tempo team, and you can clearly see what they are trying to do in terms of their style of play, and they play really well. I’m very happy with where we are in terms of just trying to gut a game out.”
Mike Thorne Jr. scored a career-high 17 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds in the game. Pierria Henry recorded his 27th career double-figure scoring game with 17 points. Henry also grabbed eight rebounds and recorded five steals. Shawn Lester scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds off the bench in his first college game. Terrence Williams scored 10 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out four assists and tallied five steals. Marcus Bryan came off the bench to score nine points.
ETSU’s Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard led all scorers with 31 points.
The lead exchanged hands several times over the first 14 minutes. With the game tied at 23 with 5:53 on the clock, the 49ers went on a 9-0 run capped off by a Willie Clayton layup giving the 49ers a 32-23 lead with three minutes left in the half. Lester scored five points during the run.
With the 49ers leading 34-25 with 1:40 on the clock, ETSU finished the half on a 6-0 run cutting Charlotte’s halftime lead to 34-31.
Williams, Clayton and Thorne scored to start the second half pushing Charlotte’s lead to 40-33 with 18:30 on the clock. Over the next five minutes, ETSU outscored the 49ers 14-9 cutting Charlotte’s lead to 49-47 with 13:21 on the clock after Gadsden-Gilliard converted two free throws.
Bryan and Lester each scored four points over the next three minutes pushing the 49ers lead to 59-50 when Lester knocked down a jump shot with 10:18 on the clock.
The 49ers maintained a lead of 3-8 points over the next nine minutes. During that stretch, Williams connected a big shot when he knocked down a three from in front of the 49ers bench as the shot clock was expiring with 4:50 on the clock
When, Henry knocked down a free throw with 1:18 the 49ers led 76-70. Then, ETSU scored five straight points cutting the 49ers lead to 76-75 with seven seconds on the clock. ETSU’s Lukas Podersis went to the line for two free throws with seven seconds on the clock. He was only able to make one of them cutting the 49ers lead to 76-75. Henry closed out the victory for the 49ers by converting four free throws in the final six seconds.
Charlotte returns to action when they play the College of Charleston on the road, Tuesday, November 12 at 7 pm.