Houston, Texas – Three 49ers scored in double-figures led by Shawn Lester’s 18 points off the bench, but Charlotte (12-7, C-USA: 3-3) lost on the road at Rice (6-13, C-USA: 1-5), 71-69.
Lester recorded his 14th double-figure scoring game of the season off the bench with his 18 points. Lester was 6-for-9 from the field and 3-for-6 from three. Lester also grabbed six rebounds in the game. Willie Clayton recorded his 18th straight double-figure scoring game with 13 points. He also grabbed 11 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the season. Pierria Henry scored 10 points and dished out six assists.
Charlotte started the game on a 6-0 run behind Clayton, Ben Cherry and Mike Thorne. With Charlotte leading 12-10 with 13:19 on the clock, the 49ers behind the scoring of Lester, Thorne and Clayton pushed their lead to 19-10 with 11:16 on the clock.
Then, Rice went on a 13-2 run over the next four minutes taking a 23-21 lead when Ross Wilson scored inside with 7:11 on the clock. Terrence Williams made a free throw cutting Rice’s lead to 23-22. Then, Rice scored nine of the next 11 points taking a 32-24 lead when Austin Ramljak connected on a three with 4:08 on the clock.
Charlotte behind a free throw by Clayton, a three-point field goal by Lester and a three-point play by Williams scored seven straight points cutting their deficit to 32-31 with 1:38 left in the half. Rice scored the final four points of the first half taking a 36-31 halftime lead.
Rice pushed their lead to 12 points, 49-37, with 14:16 left in the second half. With Charlotte trailing 51-39 with 13:56 on the clock, the 49ers went on a 7-0 run capped off by a Henry jump shot cutting Rice’s lead to 51-46 with 12:03 on the clock.
Rice pushed their lead back to double-figures. With Rice leading 59-48 with 6:38 on the clock, Charlotte scored 21 of the next 32 points cutting Rice’s lead to 70-69 when Lester knocked down a three from the wing in front of the 49ers bench with 18 seconds on the clock. Henry scored six points and Lester scored five points during the run. Denzel Ingram and Williams each scored four points during the run.
Rice’s Max Guercy made one of two free throws with nine seconds on the clock pushing their lead to 71-69. Cherry’s shot from the baseline at the buzzer just missed giving Rice the 71-69 victory.
Charlotte returns to Halton Arena to face Florida Atlantic and FIU next week. Charlotte plays Florida Atlantic in Halton Arena, Thursday, January 30 at 7 pm. Then, the 49ers play FIU at Halton Arena, Saturday, February 1.