The Charlotte 49ers begin the 2013-14 season in Halton Arena against ETSU, Friday, November 8 at 7:30 pm. The 49ers are beginning their fourth season under Head Coach Alan Major. This game will be the second game of the 49ers basketball doubleheader as the 49ers women’s basketball team begins their season against Liberty at 5 pm.
The 49ers are 2-1 in season-openers under Major (W, 68-58 over Charleston Southern last season; W, 73-57 over North Carolina Central in 2011-12 and L, 78-70 v. Gardner-Webb in 2010-11). Charlotte is 33-15 overall in season openers and 35-13 in their first home game of the season. This marks the 32nd season that the 49ers have opened the season at home -- they are 22-9 in true home openers, with wins in seven of their last eight home openers.
Last season, the 49ers went 21-12 and earned the program’s first postseason tournament berth since 2008 with a trip to the NIT. Charlotte returns four starters and eight letterwinners off last season’s team. The 49ers have returned to Conference USA for the first-time since 2004-05 after playing the last eight seasons in the Atlantic 10.
Charlotte returners are led by junior Pierria Henry, a 2013 Atlantic 10 All-Defensive team selection, and sophomore Willie Clayton, a 2013 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team selection. Henry, who has ranked among the nation’s leaders in steals the last two seasons, is the 49ers leading returning scorer at 10.3 points per game. Henry averaged 2.5 steals per game last season. Clayton led the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage at 57.9%. Clayton averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Junior Terrence Williams is another returning starter. Williams averaged 7.6 points per game. Rounding out the returning starters is sophomore Denzel Ingram who led the 49ers in three-point field goals made last season.
The 49ers other returning letterwinners are sophomores Ivan Benkovic, Mike Thorne, Mitch Warner and Gavin Wilson. Benkovic had two double-figure scoring games last season including a season-high 15 points at St. Bonaventure. Thorne scored a season-high 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds against Temple in Halton Arena last season.
Rounding out the 49ers’ roster are newcomers senior Ben Cherry, junior Bernard Sullivan, sophomores Shawn Lester and Braxton Ogbueze and freshmen Cameron Blakley, Marcus Bryan, Reid Aube, Terrence Thompson and Mason Wyrick. Sullivan and Ogbueze will be able to practice but they will not be able play this season due to NCAA rules after transferring to Charlotte.
This game will mark the fifth meeting between Charlotte and ETSU, who leads the all-time series, 3-1. ETSU defeated Charlotte, 70-69, in their last meeting which came in Halton Arena, November 22, 2011. Former Niner Jamar Briscoe led four 49ers in double-figures with 15 points. Pierria Henry scored 13 points and recorded five steals in that game.
Charlotte marketing office will have red, white and blue ribbons available for fans on the marketing table.
With it being a doubleheader, tickets are $10 for both games. The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will also be on-hand with free admission to those who bring a canned food item. The SAAC is in a competition with other SAAC organizations at other Conference USA schools to raise money and bring in the most canned food items.
Fans are also encouraged to help make a donation to Operation Hat Trick. Three hats are available for purchase through the online store and 10 percent of proceeds will be donated to Operation Hat Trick.