El Paso, Texas – Despite having four players score in double-figures, the Charlotte 49ers (17-14) saw their season come to an end with an 86-65 loss to number-one seed Louisiana Tech (26-6) in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament.
“Congratulations to Coach Michael White and his team,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “I thought they made some really big plays when we cut into the lead and got the game within striking distance a few times. They made some big shots and give those guys some credit. I’m proud of this group. I know we didn’t quite achieve some of the things we wanted to this year, but we did some things in terms of making a little bit of history early in the season and finishing by winning three out of our last four games, we’ve got a lot to build on. We’re going to add some pieces to this group next year. This group that we have now is going to get better.”
Terrence Williams and Pierria Henry each tallied 13 points. Denzel Ingram scored 12 points. Shawn Lester scored 11 points off the bench. Willie Clayton scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds. Mike Thorne grabbed eight rebounds.
The game was close for the first five and half minutes. Clayton scored inside with 14:38 on the clock cutting Louisiana Tech’s lead to 13-11. Louisiana Tech scored five straight points pushing their lead to 18-11 when Kenyon McNeail knocked down a three with 14:09 on the clock. Louisiana Tech’s lead grew to 24-13 with 10:50 on the clock.
With 8:10 on the clock, Henry knocked down a three cutting Louisiana Tech’s lead to 24-17. That would be as close as the 49ers would get the remainder of the first half.
Charlotte cut Louisiana Tech’s 10 point halftime lead to seven points, 36-29, when Henry knocked down a jump shot with 17:50 on the clock.
Then, Louisiana Tech went on a 10-0 run over the next three minutes pushing their lead to 46-29.
With 10 minutes left in the game, Lester knocked down three straight threes cutting Louisiana Tech’s lead to 63-50 with 8:40 on the clock. Then, Louisiana Tech scored four straight points pushing their lead to 17 points with just over seven minutes left in the game.
With 4:31 left in the game, Pierria Henry knocked down three free throws cutting Louisiana Tech’s lead to 71-60 but that would be as close as the 49ers would get.
“I think any team that starts out wants to keep playing and get into the next week, whether it be NCAA or
NIT,” Major said. “Our guys achieved a lot to know that two straight years they’ve captured regular-season tournament titles in Alaska and Puerto Rico titles. There is always a sour taste in your mouth when it comes to an end but every team has high hopes and we’re one of those teams. We know we’re better than we performed on some of these nights where we didn’t get the results we wanted to. We were one or two possessions away on multiple nights from a totally different record. We’ve got some things to build on. Sometimes this taste in your mouth is the same thing that can drive you forward the next six months.”