CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Behind the double-figure scoring of three players off the bench, the Charlotte 49ers (15-2, A-10: 3-0) gutted out a 74-68 win over Fordham (5-13, A-10: 1-2) in an Atlantic 10 contest in Halton Arena.
"It was a good team win," Charlotte coach Alan Major said. "You have to give Fordham credit they have a physical team. We had multiple contributors today. I was really pleased with the play of JT Thompson and DeMario Mayfield."
The last time Charlotte opened a season with a 15-2 record was in the 1976-77 season when the 49ers went 28-5 and reached the Final Four. Charlotte began that season 17-2.
Charlotte's depth has been one of its biggest assets this season and it was no different on Wednesday evening. The 49ers were led by junior guard DeMario Mayfield with a season-high 18 points off the bench. Mayfield was 6-for-10 from the field and knocked down Charlotte's only two 3-pointers. This was his fifth consecutive game recording double figures. He also led the Niners in assists with three.
JT Thompson finished with a season-high 12 points. The senior forward who has seen limited minutes this season made a significant impact in the win. He was flawless from the field and free throw line, shooting 4-for-4 from each spot.
Freshman Darion Clark added 11 points and shot 4-for-5 from the field. Charlotte's bench behind the scoring of Clark, Mayfield and Thompson finished the game with a 44-16 advantage in bench points.
"Charlotte's depth is the real deal," said Fordham head coach Tom Pecora. "They have guys on their bench that can not only start at Charlotte but other places in the league."
Fordham had a 44-35 advantage on the glass but it was Charlotte who finished with a better shooting performance (44.1 percent). The Rams shot 37.3 percent and turned the ball over 18 times.
The Rams opened the second half on a 7-2 run with 17:20 left to take a 34-33 lead. Charlotte and Fordham continued to battle, keeping the game within close reach until the 49ers finally pulled away in the closing minutes. Charlotte took its largest lead of the game 62-54, with 6:15 left after Henry capped a quick 6-0 run. However, the final minutes proved to be the 49ers' biggest test as the Rams continuously edged their lead. With 1:21 left, Fordham had sliced Charlotte's advantage to 65-63 but the Niners' kept their composure on both sides of the ball to close out the victory.
It took each team a few minutes to get warmed up following the opening tip but the 49ers found its rhythm and managed to take a 31-27 lead at halftime. The first half went back-and-fourth, featuring six lead changes and ties. Charlotte took the 18-17 lead at the 8:09 mark after a jumper by Mayfield and never trailed again throughout the half. The Niners took their largest advantage 24-17, with 5:59 left following four straight points from Williams and a put back dunk from Thompson, who led the 49ers with eight points at the half.
Branden Frazier led all scorers with 23 points for Fordham.
Charlotte returns back to action on Saturday, January 19 as it travels to Richmond for an Atlantic 10 matchup. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.