Late mis­takes cost Char­lotte 49ers shot at an­other vic­tory

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - College Basketball - BY DAVID SCOTT [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Char­lotte’s 73-66 loss Satur­day to North Texas at Hal­ton Arena was an­other study in late-game frus­tra­tion for the 49ers.

For a third con­sec­u­tive game, the youth­ful 49ers (5-17, 2-9) were in po­si­tion to po­ten­tially claim a rare vic­tory, this time against one of Con­fer­ence USA’s top teams in North Texas (19-4, 7-3). But – as in close de­feats Thurs­day against Rice and the pre­vi­ous Satur­day against Texas-El Paso – Char­lotte fell short.

This time, the 49ers com­mit­ted two key turnovers late and with the out­come still very much in doubt.

Trail­ing 67-66, fresh- man guard Cooper Robb, who had an oth­er­wise stel­lar game, threw an ill-ad­vised pass to se­nior guard Jon Davis. North Texas’ Ryan Wool­ridge in­ter­cepted and con­verted a fast-break layup for a 69-66 Mean Green lead with 1 minute, 8 sec­onds left.

On Char­lotte’s next pos­ses­sion, the 49ers turned it over again, this time on a back-court vi­o­la­tion. And, again, North Texas con­verted, this time on a dunk by Michael Miller with 26 sec­onds left.

That made it 71-66 and ended any hopes the 49ers had.

The 49ers ac­tu­ally led for most of the game (25:03) and were ahead 34-32 at half­time. They didn’t trail at all in the first half and led by eight points when fresh­man Ma­lik Martin hit a 3-pointer with 4:17 left to make it 29-21. That capped a 13-6 run dur­ing which Martin scored nine points.

The Mean Green an­swered with an 8-0 run to tie it 29-29 on a 3-pointer by Umoja Smart with 1:11 left in the half. But the 49ers outscored North Texas 5-3 late and led 34-32 at half­time.

THREE WHO MAT­TERED

Davis, Char­lotte: Scored 25 points, the 15th time this sea­son he has had 20-plus points in a game. The last Char­lotte player to scored 20 or more points in at least 15 games in a sea­son was Leemire Gold­wire in 2007-08. Davis’ last bas­ket came with 12:28 left.

Roo­sevelt Smart, North Texas: Mean Green guard scored 19 points with 7-of-14 shoot­ing and grabbed six re­bounds.

Robb, Char­lotte: 49ers’ 6-foot-1 fresh­man guard scored five points, but he had ca­reer highs in re­bounds (10) and as­sists (six).

WORTH MEN­TION­ING

Char­lotte will play again Thurs­day at Mid­dle Ten­nessee. North Texas will face Mar­shall at home Thurs­day.

The 49ers got some im­pres­sive hus­tle early in the game from for­ward Mi­los Supica, who ran down missed shots to keep two Char­lotte pos­ses­sions alive.

Char­lotte had as­sists on each of its 12 made bas­kets in the first half and fin­ished with 18 as­sists on 23 bas­kets. Much of that ef­fi­ciency was negated by 16 turnovers, which North Texas turned into 22 points.

North Texas en­tered the game as the only team in the na­tion with six play­ers av­er­ag­ing in dou­ble­fig­ure scor­ing. Only two Mean Green play­ers – Smart and Gibson (19 each) – were in dou­ble fig­ures against Char­lotte.

Martin started for the first time since re­turn­ing from a four-games ab­sence be­cause of an an­kle in­jury. Martin had been a re­serve for Char­lotte in the pre­vi­ous six games.

THEY SAID IT

“This one is def­i­nitely go­ing to hurt be­cause we kind of gave it away. You have to be in­ten­tional about the lit­tle things.” – 49ers coach Ron Sanchez.

“We’re all learn­ing as we go. Ev­ery game is some­thing we can learn from, no mat­ter the cir­cum­stance.” – Robb.

“How about Cooper with 10 re­bounds? We’re go­ing to start call­ing him ‘lit­tle big man.’ ” – Sanchez.

BEN­JAMIN ROB­SON

Char­lotte 49ers fresh­man guard Ma­lik Martin, left, charges into North Texas’ Roo­sevelt Smart dur­ing Satur­day’s Con­fer­ence USA men’s basketball game at Hal­ton Arena. North Texas won73-66.

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