Charlotte, N.C.- Behind four double-figure scorers led by Pierria Henry’s 23 points, the Charlotte 49ers (9-4) closed out their non-conference schedule with an 88-72 win over North Carolina A&T (3-11) in Halton Arena.
Henry led the charge for Charlotte scoring a season-high 23 points, off 7-for-14 shooting from the floor and 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the three-point line. Willie Clayton and Shawn Lester scored 13 apiece and Mike Thorne Jr. chipped in 12 points to round out the double-figure scoring.
“Execution is a five man thing, compared to playmaking, which is a one man. Guys were playing off each other and making the extra pass. That is what defines us. ” said Charlotte coach Alan Major.
Charlotte went into the locker room tied with North Carolina A&T, 40-40, despite shooting 5-for-9 from behind the arc in the first half. The Aggies hung with the 49ers for the first six minutes of the second half before Terrence Williams hit a triple to give the 49ers the lead for good, 49-47, with 14:31 remaining in the half.
Charlotte went on a 16-4 run capped off by a Lester fast-break slam giving the Niners a 65-51 advantage with 9:22 left on the clock. An Aggies timeout sparked a 6-0 run by A&T’s Richuad Park who knocked down back-to-back treys to cut the deficit to eight, the closest the Aggies got in the second half.
“Stops, great communication, defense, and finding the open man,” said Pierria Henry on the second half spark.
Denzel Ingram hit a baseline three to push the lead back to double digits, 68-57, where it would stay for the remainder of the game. Ingram finished with eight points off 2-for-3 shooting from behind the arc. Henry pushed the lead to 78-62 with 4:09 remaining to give Charlotte its largest lead of the game with a fast break lay-up.
The 49ers dominated in the fast break department scoring 20 points on fast breaks in the second half off eight turnovers and 30 points for the game. The Niners limited the Aggies to only three fast break points. Charlotte also dished out 17 assists on 27 made baskets. “When you have the assists to made basket ratio; it is a good thing. We try to live off of our defense and trigger offensive opportunities,” said Major.
Henry handed out seven assists to go with his seven rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots. “I think he felt more confident shooting the ball tonight,” Major said. “But the thing is that is him. He is a stat filler. When your point guard is a really good rebounder, the break is already started.”
Charlotte started the game hot going on a 21-11 run in the first seven minutes of the game pushing the lead double digits midway through the first half. Thorne started the scoring with an emphatic dunk on a fast break opportunity. Ben Cherry gave the Niners a spark hitting back-to-back threes off assists from Henry. Cherry returned the favor finding Henry on the wing for a trey of his own.
The Aggies used a 10-0 run to take the lead, 28-25, with 5:00 remaining in the half. The lead changed hands five times in the first half with neither team gaining more than an one possession advantage, as the 49ers went into the locker room tied at 40 apiece.
Clayton and Terrence Williams grabbed a team-high eight rebounds apiece, five each in the second half. Williams added six points hitting 2-for-3 from behind the arc as the 49ers hit a season high 10 threes, hitting 52.6% from behind the arc. The 49ers are 4-0 when connecting on eight or more from three.
The 49ers defense limited North Carolina A&T to 38.2% shooting from the field for the game and 34.8% shooting in the second half.
The Niners start Conference USA action with a week-long trip to Texas squaring off with UTEP in El Paso and UTSA in San Antonio, the 9th and 111th respectively, before returning to Halton Arena, January 16, facing a Tulsa squad.