Charlotte (6-23, 2-16 C-USA) had three players in double-figures as they beat Florida Atlantic (12-18, 6-12 C-USA), 85-78, on Senior Night at Halton Arena. The win snapped the 49ers 15-game losing streak.
The 49ers three in double figures were Jon Davis, senior Austin Ajukwa and Andrien White. Davis led the 49ers with 28 points (17 in the first half) on 6-of-11 shooting from the field while going 12-for-12 from the free throw line. Senior Austin Ajukwa playing in his final game at Charlotte scored 23 points including going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. White added 17 points.
Charlotte finished the game shooting 30-for-32 from the free throw line for a 93.8 free throw percentage, which is the second highest free throw percentage in a game in school history.
Florida Atlantic had two players score in double figures led by Ronald Delph’s 19 points.
The game started with the two teams exchanging the lead several times with three ties over the first ten minutes. With the game tied at 19 with ten minutes left in the first half, Florida Atlantic went on a 6-1 run to take a 26-20 lead with 7:07 remaining in the first half.
Charlotte scored 10 of the next 12 points to take a 30-28 lead on a huge dunk by Najee Garvin with 4:25 remaining. Florida Atlantic scored six straight points to regain the lead 34-30 on a Delph layup with 3:25 on the clock. Charlotte finished the first half on a 10-2 run to take a 40-36 halftime lead.
Florida Atlantic started the second half on a 7-0 run to take a 43-40 lead when Justin Massey connected on a three with 18:23 remaining in the second half. White answered Massey’s three with a three tying the game for the seventh time at 43. The teams exchange baskets with the game tied again at 48 with 15:40 remaining.
The 49ers went on a 6-0 run with baskets by Davis and White to take a 54-48 lead with 14:23 remaining. Florida Atlantic scored seven straight points when Jailyn Ingram made a layup to take a 55-54 lead with 13:20 remaining.
Ajukwa scored 13 straight Charlotte points beginning with a jumper at the 9:45 mark, which gave the 49ers the lead, 60-59. Ajukwa ended his scoring run with a three-point play giving Charlotte a 71-64 lead with 5:19 remaining. White converted on two free throws pushing Charlotte’s lead to nine points with 4:47 to go.
Florida Atlantic went on a 7-2 run to cut the 49ers lead to four, 75-71, with 2:08 remaining. Two free throws by Davis pushed the Niners lead to 77-71 at the 1:35 mark. FAU’s Ingram made a layup to cut the 49ers lead to 77-73 with one-minute left in regulation. Charlotte closed out the win by going 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final minute.
“Tonight was special. This was a special win for our whole team and with it coming on my senior night it is very special,” Austin Ajukwa said.
“We’ve sat up here for two months and talked about challenges and talked about making plays, if tonight is not an indicator that these kids have never given up all season then I don’t know what is,” Charlotte interim head coach Houston Fancher said. “They had opportunities to give up tonight when they built a lead and then lost a lead but we finally found a way to get the stops we needed and we went 30-for-32 from the free throw line. I couldn’t be proud of these guys. We talked about this before the game and if anyone had said to me that this game didn’t matter then I might have slapped them across the face because this game meant everything to us tonight.”