The 49ers only had two players in double-figures, which was not enough to give Charlotte (5-13, 1-6 C-USA) a second conference win. FIU (9-11, 3-4 C-USA) dominated most of the night to beat Charlotte 79-59.
Charlotte’s two players in double-figures were Jon Davis and Ryan Murphy. Davis finished with 15 points, two rebounds and three assists. Murphy finished with 14 points, four rebounds and two assists.
FIU’s Eric Lockett scored a career-high 30 points. Three other players scored in double-figures for Florida International. Trejon Jacob scored 16 points, Brian Beard Jr. scored 15 points and Michael Douglas scored 16 points. This was the Panther’s biggest Conference USA win since 2014.
Both teams were going back-and-forth to start the game. Charlotte was trailing 5-7 with 15:26 remaining in the first half. Charlotte had a slow shooting start, shooting 27 percent from the field in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Florida International went on a few runs to extend their lead to 36-15 with 4:08 remaining in the first half. Charlotte then responded with a 7-0 run to cut FIU’s 21-point lead to 12 with 1:14 remaining. FIU’s Michael Douglas hit a last second layup to give FIU the lead 41-24 going into halftime.
Charlotte began the second half by scoring 10 of the first 12 points, cutting FIU’s lead to 43-34 when Austin Ajukwa knocked down two free throws with 16:44 remaining in the second half. The 49ers cut FIU’s lead to 8 with 15:01 remaining, that is the closest they were in the second half. The Niners kept fighting back, but it wasn’t enough. FIU went on a few more runs to extend their lead to 69-55 with 6:05 remaining. FIU went on a 7-2 run to regain control of the game.
Turnovers hurt the Niners all game. Charlotte had 16 turnovers and FIU capitalized with 23 points off turnovers. Charlotte had 5 points off turnovers. Florida International’s bench outscored the Niner bench, 18-8. The Panthers found the free throw line 25 times and converted on 19 of them, the 49ers shot 9-12 from the charity stripe.
Charlotte shot 42 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point range. A positive for the 49ers is that they out rebounded FIU 34-31.
In five of the 49ers seven games in Conference USA play they have failed to score 65 or more points.
Charlotte returns to Halton Arena to begin a three-game home stand against Old Dominion on Saturday, Jan. 27. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.