Huntington, W.Va. – Behind three double-figure scorers and two double-doubles, the Charlotte 49ers (16-13, C-USA: 7-9) defeated Marshall (10-21, C-USA: 4-12), 74-70, on the road in the regular-season finale.
“It is good to win on the road to finish the regular-season,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “It was great for Pierria to win in front of his friends and family in the area where he grew up. It was great to continue building momentum and to finish the year with two wins in row and hopefully we can take that momentum to El Paso.”
Pierria Henry scored a season-high 26 points with 19 of those points coming in the second half. He also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists. Mike Thorne and Willie Clayton each recorded a double-double. Thorne had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Thorne was eight-for-nine from the field. While, Clayton scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Denzel Ingram scored nine points.
“Pierria was very energetic tonight,” Major said. “He ignited us. and he drove the ball to rim and shot the ball well from the perimeter.”
Thorne started the 49ers scoring off with the 49ers first three points. With the game tied at nine with 15:46 on the clock, the 49ers behind baskets by Thorne and Ingram took a four point lead. Marshall answered with four straight points tying the score for the fourth time at 14 with 12:05 on the clock.
The lead exchanged hands several times with several ties over the next 11 and half minutes. Then, Clayton made two free throws which gave the 49ers a 32-30 lead with 39 seconds on the clock. Marshall’s DeVince Boykins made one free throw cutting Charlotte’s lead in half. Thorne gave the 49ers a 34-31 halftime lead after dunking a Henry alley oop at the first half buzzer.
Charlotte began the second half on an 11-5 run taking a 45-36 lead after Clayton scored inside with 15:34 on the clock. Henry scored seven of the 49ers 11 points during the run while Clayton scored the other four points.
Marshall went on a 6-0 run cutting Charlotte’s lead to 45-42 with 13:22 on the clock. Then, a three by Henry and a layup by Thorne pushed the 49ers lead back to eight points, 50-42.
With 7:59 on the clock, Marshall had cut Charlotte’s lead to 57-53. Then, Charlotte went on an 8-0 run behind baskets by Thorne and Henry and a three from the corner by Ingram pushing Charlotte’s lead to 64-53 with five minutes left in the second half.
The 49ers maintained a lead of 7-12 points for the next four and half minutes. Marshall’s Kareem Canty knocked down a three cutting Charlotte’s lead to 72-68 with 14 seconds on the clock. The 49ers closed out the victory with free throws by Ben Cherry and Henry.
With the victory, the 49ers earned a first-round bye in next week’s Conference USA Tournament in El Paso, Texas. Charlotte will play UAB in the second round of the Conference USA Tournament, Wednesday, March 12 at 10:30 pm.