A group of Charlotte players return to the bench during a timeout. Photo by Chris Crews

After a telling loss against ODU to open up conference play, the Niners learned some things about themselves, things that they knew they would have to work on if they were going to win games. There are a few slumps that the team is working to get out of and even in the conference losses, some of that work is proving to pay off.

Scoring only 16 in the first half to ODU’s 42 was a product of Charlotte not playing with enough passion as a team. The comparison in the second half would be significantly different at 47-42 Monarchs, the Niners only falling five points behind. This was just not enough for the 49ers, who have to be able to play in the first half more like they do in the second.

“It was a great lesson for us and we’ve responded nicely, I think our guys have come back and practiced hard. I think in that adverse situation it showed us a lot about ourselves, what we’ve got to get better at, how we’ve got to improve, and that’s where your character gets built too,” said Coach Houston Fancher.

One of the slumps the team was dealing with at the beginning of conference play was their leading scorer, Jon Davis, not entirely playing like himself. No player is perfect and whatever the reason, Davis simply seemed different and was not performing like he usually did.

In the first three conference games, he scored only 33 points total and only 15 in the sole conference win Charlotte currently has under their belts against North Texas.

In the last three conference games Davis contributed a total of 89 points, scoring a Halton Arena record and a career high of 38 points in the loss to Marshall, surpassing his previous high last season of 35. Something had to give for this power house and it seems something has.

“It’s almost like preseason again, we had to reestablish a lot of things. The way that we want to do things as a staff is a little bit different,” said Fancher. “We win and lose together, not one of us lost, we all lost. It’s not them and us as coaches, it’s us together. We’re trying to reestablish that mindset. I think we got sorry for our ourselves a little bit and that’s not what we’re going to be known for, I don’t want us to be known for that during this period.”

On the other hand though, another teammate and second leading scorer in Andrien White had been stepping back up a bit going into conference play. After matching his career high with 30 points which is also his season high thus far, against ECU in pre-conference, White continued to contribute points that Charlotte needed.

Stepping up to score a total of 64 points in the Niners’ first three conference games, he was prepared to play a role his team needed him to, tallying 23 in the win against North Texas.

Now the Niners responded to the loss at ODU, a tough game no doubt, with a hard fought win over North Texas.

The only half in the six conference games played that the Niners have been on top was the first half at North Texas with a score of 34-28.

Playing as a team in the way that Charlotte did in that first half is something they really kept doing, sticking with teams far better in the first half up until the most recent loss at FAU where Charlotte fell 11 points behind.

The Niners would get their fifth conference loss to FAU at 75-64 after matching FAU’s score in the second half at 37-37.

Most recently, the team lost to FIU by 20 points after being down 17 at the half. The 49ers were outscored by only three in the second half. Ryan Murphy, who has been getting a few starts this year coming off of is redshirt season, scored a career-high 14 points against FIU. Scoring was a little more spread out in this game with Davis leading with 15 and several others not quite in double-figures. Simply a dispersement of scoring though was not enough to win a game.

This group has to be ready to come out and play in the first half the way they do in the second. Charlotte is missing something they really need to find, whether that be passion or teamwork or simply for shots to drop.

It may not be entirely evident in the final scores, but things have changed for the 49ers and getting off to a rough start however long it may last only shows a team how much harder they have to fight.

“I’d love to know where we’re going to be in March, but I really don’t care,” Fancher said. “I want to know where we’re going to be tomorrow. How we compete in practice will determine that because I think we can establish some things about our mentality and who we’re going to be in practice and hopefully display it in games.”