CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Led by Pierria Henry's career-high 20 points and three other players in double figures, the Charlotte 49ers defeated the La Salle Explorers 74-65 in its Atlantic 10 conference opener, Wednesday evening at Halton Arena.
"I was pleased with our overall scoring balance," Charlotte coach Alan Major said. "We got a nice effort by our bench. I was also very pleased with our defensive effort as we held a potent offensive team to 32% shooting from the floor."
Henry turned in an all-around performance while notching his second consecutive double-digit game. Henry was 7-for-12 from the field, hit 6-of-7 free throws and grabbed five rebounds.
Charlotte (13-2 overall, 1-0 A-10) used its bench where it placed three players in double figures in scoring. Sophomore E. Victor Nickerson finished with a career-high 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Freshman Darion Clark recorded 12 points and tallied six boards. DeMario Mayfield also added ten points off the bench to mark his second straight double figure game. Additionally, Charlotte's bench outscored the Explorers' 35-9.
The Niners held La Salle (10-4, 0-1) to a 32.5 percent (25-of-77) shooting performance throughout the game.
Charlotte controlled the game during the second half but La Salle posed a slight threat when it erased the 49ers' double-digit lead six times. The Explorers got within six; their closest of the half after Ramon Galloway drove to the basket on a fast break dunk at the 2:53 mark. However the Niners responded with a dunk of their own from Henry with 2:33 left to push the game out of reach.
The Niners seized a 33-17 lead at halftime, with their defense playing a major role. Charlotte held La Salle to 17 points in the first half, the fewest by a 49ers opponent this season. La Salle took its last lead of the half at the 14:53 mark as it was all Charlotte from that point on. The Niners went on a 10-0 run to lift them to an 18-8 advantage capped off by Mayfield three-pointer with 10:14 remaining.
Charlotte stretched their lead back to double digits at the 6:53 mark after going on a 10-3 run to close out the half. The Explorers made its final basket of the half at the 4:56 mark.
La Salle's Galloway led all scorers with 23 points and nine rebounds. However, the 49ers defense caused Galloway, the A-10's leading scorer, to go 7-for-29 from the field and 3-for-14 from beyond the arc in the game.
The Niners resume Atlantic 10 play as they travel to Rhode Island on Saturday, Jan. 12. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.