El Paso, Texas - Behind four double-figure scorers and a solid effort on the glass, the Charlotte 49ers (10-4, C-USA 1-0) defeated UTEP (10-6, C-USA 0-1), 73-68, on the road in their Conference USA opener.
“Everybody chipped in on tonight’s win,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “UTEP is a tough place to win at and it was a total team victory over a good UTEP team.”
Mike Thorne led the 49ers with his second double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Terrence Williams also scored 16 points including going eight-for-ten from the free throw line. Pierria Henry recorded his ninth double-figure scoring game of the season with 13 points. Henry dished out seven assists in the game. Willie Clayton recorded his 13th straight double-figure scoring game with 10 points. Clayton also grabbed six rebounds. Marcus Bryan grabbed a career-high seven rebounds off the bench.
The 49ers behind the rebounding of Thorne, Bryan, Clayton and Williams finished the game with a 41-27 advantage in rebounding. The 49ers also enjoyed a 30-26 advantage on points in the paint.
The game remained tight for the first nine minutes with four ties and several lead changes. With the game tied at 15 with 11:11 on the clock, UTEP went on a 7-0 run taking a 22-15 lead when Julian Washburn scored with 10 minutes on the clock.
Then, Shawn Lester, who scored eight points off the bench, knocked down two straight threes cutting UTEP’s lead to 22-21 with 9:10 on the clock.
UTEP’s Matt Willms stopped the 49ers run with a dunk but then a jumper in the lane by Thorne and two free throws by Lester gave the 49ers a 25-24 lead with 6:56 on the clock.
With the score tied for the sixth time at 27 with 5:24 left in the first half, the 49ers outscored UTEP, 7-2, the remainder of the half giving the 49ers a 34-29 halftime lead. Williams gave the 49ers the lead for good with two free throws with 4:19 on the clock.
Charlotte began the second half by scoring seven of the half’s first 11 points taking a 41-33 lead when Ben Cherry knocked down a three from the corner with 15:55 on the clock.
UTEP cut Charlotte’s lead to four points a couple of times and three points once. However, the 49ers would answer with baskets by Thorne, Henry, Clayton and Williams down the stretch helping the 49ers maintain their lead. One of the big shots in the second half came when UTEP was making a run and had some momentum, Denzel Ingram knocked down a three from the top of the key which gave the 49ers a 66-57 lead with 4:47 on the clock.
Charlotte closed out the victory with timely free throw shooting by Williams, Henry and Ingram down the stretch.
The 49ers continue their two-game road swing through the state of Texas with a road game at UTSA, Saturday, January 11 at 4 pm. The game will be broadcast by Time Warner Texas. Fans in the Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Wilmington areas that have Time Warner Cable can watch the game on Channel 520.