Jesse Hodges

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Journalist, Student, Sports fanatic. #NinerTimes #UNCC19 I'm a Charlotte resident but a New York citizen.

Despite the Charlotte Hornets’ postseason exit, there’s still room for optimism

Hornets offseason addition Jeremy Lin dribbles the ball around Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley
Hornets offseason addition Jeremy Lin dribbles the ball around Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley

The anticipation for most of the Hornet’s roster’s first ever game seven in the first round of the 2016 NBA playoffs was quite evident.

From the tip, the Hornets didn’t play with the sam energy they displayed in the first six games. Starting guard Kemba Walker looked fatigue as he only shot 3-of-16 from the field finishing with only nine points after having a career best performance in the previous game. The heat came out with a ton of energy and took full advantage of the home court.

Although the Hornets fell short to Dwayne Wade and the Heat on Sunday, they’res plenty of silver linings from the season. This team is fresh and young while coached by a bright leader in Steve Clifford and his respectable assistant staff whom have been associated with the NBA for quite some time now.

Walker is coming off of a career high season in all three major statistical categories (points, assists, rebounds) and is destined for true NBA stardom. However, his supporting cast is still in question as Al Jefferson, Nic Batum and Jeremy Lin’s contract’s all expire this summer.

The Hornets will attempt to bring back all of the key pieces that contributed to this miraculous season, but at the same time need to keep everyone financially happy with the cap room that is available. Jefferson is the biggest question as he is the oldest in age and has had a significant amount of injuries to his body due to his NBA tenure.

The future is bright for this young team as they now possess some post season experience. It’s hard to predict what the 2016-2017 season has in store for Charlotte but it’s safe to say that they have earned their respect in the Eastern Conference. The Buzz is officially back.

Charlotte Hornets clinch playoff birth

Kemba Walker. Photo by Maria Saenz
Kemba Walker. Photo by Maria Saenz

Despite their 112-103 loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, April 3, the Charlotte Hornets accomplished something way more significant: clinching a playoff berth.

With Chicago losing to Detroit on Saturday, April 2, the Bulls helped the Hornets by losing a game which automatically gave Charlotte a reserved place in this year’s NBA postseason.

With less than ten games left to play, the main focus for Charlotte is obtaining the highest seed they possibly can. They currently hold the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and could potentially jump all of the way to the third seed with all four teams sitting in the 3-6 spots currently ranked a half game back from each other.

The third or even fourth seed would give the Hornets home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs; something that they have not done since the franchises revival. The Hornets would need to win the third or fourth seed outright because they don’t own the tiebreaker with any of the three teams currently ranked above them: Heat, Celtics, and Hawks.

In whatever matter the cookie crumbles, Charlotte will close out a productive season led by Kemba Walker, whom fans felt was an all-star snub this year. Walker currently averages 21.1 point per game and just over five assists per contest. Both statistics are either above or right at his career average.

Not to mention his franchise record setting 52-point game back on Jan. 18 against the Jazz.

His back-court counterpart Jeremy Lin is also having himself a solid season. Charlotte’s front court consisting of Nic Batum, Frank Kaminsky III and Marvin Williams just to name a few are also playing their best basketball at the right time. In years past, the Hornets franchise clinched playoff berths and were just happy to be there; being swept in each of their only two playoff appearances since the city of Charlotte’s basketball comeback in 2004.

With the possibility of being as high as a three seed, the Hornets players and coaching staff led by Steve Clifford believe they’ll win their first playoff game and playoff series since the return to Charlotte and feel that they’re legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference to challenge the top two seeds: Cleveland and Toronto.

Hornets before the game. Photo by Maria Saenz.
Hornets before the game. Photo by Maria Saenz.

Charlotte Hornets acquire Courtney Lee in the three-team trade

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is guarded by Courtney Lee of the Memphis Grizzlies. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is guarded by Courtney Lee of the Memphis Grizzlies. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service

The Charlotte Hornets have decided to go the aggressive route as we near the trade deadline for the 2015-2016 NBA Season.

On deadline day, the Hornets were involved in a three team trade that included the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Hornets dealt guard P.J. Hairston to Memphis and guard Brian Roberts to Miami. Memphis also received two second round draft picks each from the Hornets and the Heat.

The Heat also dealt forward Chris Anderson to Memphis. The Hornets, who currently hold the eighth seed in the east, are very excited to receive an experienced wingman like Courtney Lee. He has built the reputation of being a “3 and D” guy in the association who you can’t be left unguarded because he can knock down the occasional open three-pointer and has the capability to defend the opposing team’s best guard.

Hornets General manager Rich Cho is very pleased with the trade calling Lee a “proven defender and consistent scorer who will add depth to our roster,” per ESPN.

The trade will help the Hornets guard struggles as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will undergo season ending shoulder surgery. The Hornets don’t plan on stopping now will continue to fight to increase their chances in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Curry scores 40 points in homecoming

The perfect Golden State Warriors travelled to Charlotte Wednesday, Dec. 2, to face the Hornets. The anticipated homecoming of Stephen Curry had the city buzzing. Although he currently plays for the Warriors, Curry takes pride of being a local kid from Charlotte and has much respect for the Hornets organization.

His father Dell Curry played a majority of his career for the Hornets. On this particular night, the Hornets honored Dell for his time in Charlotte and payed homage by giving him the key to the city.

The warriors dominated the first half but it wasn’t Curry who had the hot hand early. Klay Thompson scored 15 of his 21 points in the first quarter. Due to the lack of an inside presence usually provided by center Al Jefferson who is currently out for at least two weeks with a strained left calf, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green were able to crash the glass and obtain offensive rebounds providing second chance shots. Kemba Walker shot poorly in the first half, not making one of his eight shots.

Frank Kaminsky III and Nic Batum picked up the slack for the Hornets scoring 16 and 17 points respectively throughout the game. But that effort wasn’t enough as Curry lit up the court scoring 28 of his game high 40 points in the third period.

Just minutes after the Hornets recognized his father for being one of the greatest Hornets players of all time, leading the franchise in scoring, Curry took the moment by storm. Hitting 3-pointers way beyond the 3-point line, Curry scored 28 points in the quarter including his team’s last 24 points in the frame. Curry was on fire on a night where his father, one of the greatest shooters in NBA history could witness his son do what he does best, put on a shooting clinic.

After this magical third quarter, the Hornets could not make up the deficit. Curry sat out the entire fourth quarter despite scoring 40 points. On a night in which Cam Newton and others came to witness the special night for the Curry family and the return of a hometown hero, Curry didn’t disappoint.

As for the Hornets, they are still on the right track as they have won five of their last seven games. The Hornets hit the road, Dec. 5 as they take on the Chicago Bulls at 8 p.m.

Charlotte’s senior night spoiled by FIU

Michell Hovey, head coach Karen Weatherington, Sarah McDonald and Brittany Leigh Held. Photo by Benjamin Robson
Michell Hovey, head coach Karen Weatherington, Sarah McDonald and Brittany Leigh Held. Photo by Benjamin Robson

Florida International University entered Charlotte with an agenda and they played it to perfection as they spoiled the 49er’s volleyball team’s senior night Saturday, Nov. 14 (25-20, 26-24, 25-18). Charlotte was close to grabbing the second set to even to match but FIU rallied to snatch the game right off their fingertips. It wasn’t the ideal way the seniors wanted to go out, but they all know that they played their hearts out last night and all season long.

“We had some great high moments this season,” commented 49ers’ head coach Karen Weatherington. “We had a big run against Marshall and we played some great matches on the road in five. For us in our hearts and minds, some of those losses were wins. We had a great season.”

In the first set, Charlotte jumped out to a quick start, led by Kaylyn Torain and Britney Leigh Held who provided early aces. Anna Henderson added a kill to make it 13-10 and forced FIU to call for time. When play resumed, Abreia Epps added a kill and Henderson calculated a block to give Charlotte a 16-11 lead. FIU started their comeback by knotting the game up at 18 and then closing the set out on a 7-2 run (25-20).

Charlotte was in control for most of the second set lead by McDonald who threw down two kills and Held added one of her own. After a Charlotte timeout, the Panthers again put a rally together after the score read 23-19. They would go on a 7-1 run to take the set (26-24). Charlotte was close to knotting up the match but a couple of miscues cost them the set. Charlotte had to play catch up for most of the third set as a slow start would prove that they were running out of steam. After losing a close second set, it seemed as if Charlotte’s chances of a comeback were slim but they continued to play to the best of their abilities.

After shortly being tied at four, Charlotte would fall behind 16-10. Charlotte recorded a couple of blocks and cut the lead to four points, 19-15. Semen Sen would make the final kill of the season to bring the score to 22-16. The Panthers would go on to continue the sweep 25-18.

McDonald led the Niners with nine kills while Torain and Sen followed right behind with eight. Henderson had a pleasing evening as she put down seven kills to hit a career-best .636 without an error all match. Held contributed with 32 final assists while adding nine digs. Green led the niners with 13 digs and three aces. McDonald, Held and Michelle Hovey all played their final matches as a 49er volleyball player on Saturday night as it was a bittersweet way to go out.

“It’s been nothing but a joy to coach Britney, Sarah and Michelle,” said Weatherington. “They did a great job. They are the quintessential volleyball players. They do everything right in the classroom, community and on the court. That’s a strong group. Michelle sat out last year so to come out into a new coaching system takes a lot of evolving and changing and she set that standard. Britney is like a wind-up toy. She plays and plays and plays until she doesn’t have anything left. Sarah is a bright star and had a breakout season. They set the foundation for the competitiveness for seasons to come.”

 Britney Leigh Held sets one of the final points of her career. Photo by Makeedah Baker.
Britney Leigh Held sets one of the final points of her career. Photo by Makeedah Baker.

Porzingis’ shot waved off, Hornets survive

The New York Knicks came to town on Veteran’s Day to square off against the Charlotte Hornets. There was much buzz surrounding the Knick’s rookie Kristaps Porzingis as he’s flown out of the gates in his debut campaign.

Another story line was that Jeremy Lin would face off against the team who helped create the aura of “Linsanity.”

The Hornets only scored 18 points in the first quarter as the Knicks starters got off to a hot start. Porzingis scored eight points in the first quarter but went cold in the remaining three quarters.

The second quarter favored the Hornets as their bench helped dig them out of a deficit and ultimately built a lead. The Hornets led by two at the half 49-47.

Carmelo Anthony came alive in the third quarter scoring 15 points on eight field goal attempts. This spark by Anthony gave the Knicks a comfortable lead heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, only two Hornets’ starters played crucial minutes as head coach Steve Clifford relied on his bench to finish the night’s job. Lin, Jeremy Lamb and Cody Zeller played big fourth quarter minutes to keep the game close. Nicolas Batum, who seemed to be the only Hornets’ starter to find his rhythm that night scored a season high 24 points. In the closing seconds, Anthony missed a three point attempt and the Hornets grabbed the rebound with 2.2 seconds left in the game.

As play resumed from the timeout that was called, the Hornets inbounded from their baseline. Zeller received the inbounds pass and scored what would be the game winning layup with .6 seconds left.

The Knicks would have once more chance to tie or win the game with a shot from deep. The Hornets were prepared for Anthony to receive the inbounds pass therefore double teaming the prolific scorer. Porzingis was left open to take the shot and sunk it.

The Knicks thought they had stolen the game from Charlotte but after officials reviewed the shot, it was evident that Porzingis didn’t release the ball in time. The Hornets won a suspenseful, gut wrenching game against the Knicks.

Batum led the Hornets with 24 points. Anthony led all scorers with 29 points. Lin and Lamb had 17 and 14 points respectively. 

Charlotte wins nail-biter at Middle Tennessee

The Charlotte 49ers volleyball team traveled to Middle Tennessee Friday night and picked up an important win in C-USA play (22-25, 25-14, 25-20, 18-25, 15-12).

The victory gives Charlotte the head to head tiebreaker advantage in the C-USA tournament if implications should come down to it.

Charlotte found themselves up 22-20 late in the opening set in lieu of Abreia Epps’ two straight kills. The Blue Raiders went on to win five straight points with the help of two Charlotte errors ultimately giving them the win in the set (22-25).

Charlotte got things together in the second set as Shelby Green and Marshae Bradbury calculated an ace and kill respectively giving Charlotte an early lead of 8-3. Charlotte’s defense was splendid in the second set with blocks from Sarah McDonald and Anna Henderson. Charlotte led 22-9 and finished off Middle Tennessee, claiming the set (25-14).

Another strong start from the 49ers allowed them to take an early 10-7 lead. Epps and Bradbury added kills to give Charlotte a 13-12 lead midway through the third set. Bradbury also added an ace in addition to a kill by Held to take the third set (25-20).

Both teams came out firing in the fourth set and the game was knotted early at 9-9. Middle Tennessee would proceed to go on a 16-9 run to end the set (18-25) and set up a showdown in a fifth set to decide a winner.

The fifth set saw Charlotte come out strong, giving everything they had. McDonald and Henderson gave a combo block and Epps added a kill giving Charlotte a 5-2 early lead. Kaylyn Torain and Bradbury added kills to extend the lead to 12-7. Epps secured the win with a final kill giving the set and the match to the 49ers (15-12).

Epps would have 15 kills hitting .375 on the evening. Held had six kills hitting .429. Bradbury hit .308 and also had six kills.

Charlotte will travel to Southern Miss on Sunday to play their last away game of the regular season. Charlotte will hope to avenge their September loss to the Golden Eagles as this match will also have implications for the conference tournament. First serve is set for 1 p.m.

Hornets top Chicago, earn first win

The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Chicago Bulls to earn their first win of the season Tuesday night.

The Bulls, who are projected contenders in the Eastern Conference, were pummelled in the 25 point loss to the Hornets 130-105 at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena. The Hornets were sparked by Jeremy Lamb, who scored 20 points off the bench on nine for 10 shooting. As the Hornet’s unlikely point’s leader of the night, Lamb obtained his 20 points by shooting 90 percent from the field in only 26 minutes of play. Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 26 points for the Bulls on 10-16 shooting. Derrick Rose was limited to 24 minutes in the game and was contained to only four points.

The Hornets never trailed in the ball game and their defense was stellar as they outscored the Bulls in all four quarters. Seven Hornets players scored in double figures and all but one starter (Marvin Williams) reached double digits. Oddly, Williams was the only Hornets player to reach the double digit mark in rebounds as he grabbed 10 for Charlotte.

Nic Batum had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Hornets also providing shots that helped ice the game early. Al Jefferson chipped in 14 points and Kemba Walker contributed 13 in the win. The Hornets kept the Bulls under 50 percent shooting from the floor and only allowed eight free throw attempts throughout the four quarters.

The Hornets player of the game was Jeremy Lamb who scored 20 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out three dimes as he went on to have his most impressive game thus far this NBA season. The Hornets improve their record to 1-3 on the year and the Bulls drop to 3-2. The Hornets are trying to prove that they can be a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference this year and this win helps plead their case as they routed one of the conference’s best team. The Hornets have a day off in between their next game as they take on the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday  at 8:30 p.m. in Dallas, Texas.

Charlotte sweeps North Texas

Charlotte volleyball in Halton Arena. Photo by Benjamin Robson
Charlotte volleyball in Halton Arena. Photo by Benjamin Robson

A C-USA volleyball matchup Sunday afternoon would prove to be a statement game for the 49ers as they swept North Texas (14-11, 6-4 C-USA) in straight sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-22). Led by Abreia Epps, who totaled 15 kills on the afternoon, Charlotte’s volleyball team played cohesively and tough.

In the first set, Charlotte was off the the races behind their kills leader Epps. After a 5-5 tie, Charlotte proceeded to go on an 8-0 run sparked by Britney Leigh Held and Anna Henderson who added kills and Morgan Barker who added an ace to the run.

Charlotte would increase their lead giving them an 11 point cushion at 20-9. Charlotte wouldn’t look back as they closed the set with a pair of kills from Sarah McDonald and an ace, added by Shelby Green. Charlotte took the first set 25-21.

#23 Michelle Hovey- Photo by  Leysha Caraballo
#23 Michelle Hovey- Photo by Leysha Caraballo

The second set was much like the first as Charlotte got off to a hot start. With the effort of two aces by Marshae Bradbury and two kills from Epps, McDonald and Henderson; each gave Charlotte an 11-5 lead early. Epps and Held would continue with kills to extend Charlotte’s lead to 17-12 forcing a North Texas timeout. The 49ers would not give up the lead as McDonald posted two put downs and Epps closed things out with a kill respectively giving Charlotte the second set 25-21 and handing them a two set to none lead.

The North Texas team tried to avoid elimination by jumping out to an early 12-5 lead. Charlotte, slowly but surely started their comeback started by two kills from Alexis Wright and a solo block by Amanda Chamberlain. This would make the score 13-10.

Epps would knot things up at 20 and 21 with two kills late and while the score was 22 all, Charlotte ended the match with an ace by Torain and two kills from Held giving Charlotte the set and the match (25-22, 3-0).

Following a great performance by Epps’ 15 kills, Torain had nine kills of her own, followed by McDonald who calculated eight. Held has a consistent performance with 34 assists, six kills and six digs not to mention hitting a .455 hitting percentage. Green and Barker led the niners with 10 digs each. North Texas and the nation’s leading attacker Carnae Dillard was shut down by the niners only registering 11 kills and hitting only .152.

The 49ers have a full week of rest before traveling to Louisiana Tech for their only C-USA match of the weekend. First serve is set for 2 p.m.

 

Hornets take China

The National Basketball Association continues to try and globalize their league and their brand throughout the world. They have recently began conducting actual NBA exhibition games in foreign countries to try and expand the game of basketball through a program known as “The NBA Global Games.”

The Charlotte Hornets were granted the opportunity alongside the Los Angeles Clippers to have a couple of NBA pre-season games in the Republic of China.

Over the years, China has grown with the interpretation of the game of basketball by creating their own league and having recent stars such as Yao Ming play in the NBA. Jeremy Lin, a member of the Charlotte Hornets and a player of Chinese descent, was appeased to be going back to his ancestors country and roots of his family.

The games were played in the cities of Shenzhen and Shanghai as the Hornets and Clippers held joint practices and later played their pre-season games on Oct. 11 and 14. In the first game, the Hornets beat the Clippers 106-94. Led by Jeremy Lin, whom registered 16 points. Cody Zeller also chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds. Spencer Hawes contributed 10 points and 13 rebounds giving him and Zeller both a double-double.

Hornets' Tyler Hansborough. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service
Hornets’ Tyler Hansborough. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service

The game was close throughout but the Hornets rallied late to secure the win. Kemba walker got a chance to start with a former University of Connecticut teammate as Steve Clifford inserted Jeremy Lamb into the starting lineup.

Lamb had a solid performance with 12 points, four assists, and three rebounds. In the second game between the two ball clubs, the Hornets started off strong with an early lead. The Hornets were led by forward Al Jefferson who poured in a team high 17 points. Jeremy Lin also scored in double figures for the second consecutive game chipping in 13 points.

The Hornets were able to capitalize on a late first quarter 15-3 run and gained a double digit advantage. The Hornets would never look back as they would proceed to route the clippers in a 42 point blowout winning 113-71. As a whole, the NBA Global Games were a success as record numbers showed up to the games. The NBA hopes to continue and grow this program in hopes that they can expand to other countries in the future.

Lin, Hornets prepare for season opener in South Beach

Jeremy Lin is one of the newest additions to the Charlotte Hornets’ roster for the upcoming NBA season. Lin, arriving from a rebuilding situation in Los Angeles, opted to accept the offer of a four year, north of 4.3 million dollar deal to become the newest guard in the Hornet’s locker room.

As training camp and the pre-season loomed, Lin was quick to display the quality he possesses, in front of his new teammates. Lin scored a team high 17 points in the preseason opener against the Orlando Magic on Oct. 3. He went on to chip in another 10 points in the second game against the Miami Heat. Lin’s double digit performances helped the Hornets win their first two preseason games.

Jeremy Lin playing with the Lakers against the Hornets in 2014. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service
Jeremy Lin playing with the Lakers against the Hornets in 2014. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service

Lin is an outspoken follower of christianity and is not afraid to speak out his beliefs. “I’m optimistic because I think I’ve put in the work and I’m a better player. I also think coach [Steve Clifford] understands my game at a different level and hopefully this will empower me to do the different things that I feel like I’m capable of doing,” Lin told the Charlotte Observer.

Arriving in Charlotte, Lin knows that starting guard, Kemba Walker is the franchise’s icon. His intent isn’t to take Walker’s spot, instead to contribute to the team any way he can. Lin put in countless hours of practice in the offseason working on his ball handling, defense and shooting form. Lin wants to improve his spot up shooting and his shooting from beyond the arc.

Defense is important to Lin as well. Lin feels he allowed too many points to opposing guards in the previous season. This campaign, with the injury to small-forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Lin is expected to receive a good chunk of playing time and may even earn a starting role in Charlotte. The Hornets are set to begin a new phase within the franchise this NBA season. Hornets head coach Steve Clifford aspires to enter the season feeling confident in his team. Speaking to the Charlotte Observer, Clifford felt that the previous season he, “Did a poor job of getting the team ready for the season. We were bad on offense and bad on defense.”  

Charlotte opens the season with a trip to Miami to face Dwayne Wade and the Heat, Wednesday Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. 

 

49ers fall to Marshall, bounce back against Blazers

The Charlotte 49ers women’s volleyball team had a positive weekend playing Marshall and UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham).

The first match was a nail biter as the game went the distance of five sets. The 49ers as well as Marshall put on an extraordinary performance and a valiant effort as each team fought to remain unbeaten in conference play.

The first set was taken by the Bison who capitalized on many of Charlotte’s miscues in the middle of the set. Charlotte and Marshall were neck and neck until the set reached 15-15 as Marshall scored three straight points starting to break away.

Abreia Epps and Amerah Alexander added kills to keep the set competitive but Marshall ended up taking the first set 25-21.

Charlotte was on their heels and as they’ve been so often before this season, they countered their opponents by taking the next set. Semen Sen, Epps and Kaylyn Torain came alive in the second set, throwing down early kills to give them an early lead at 15-9. Charlotte would not look back and easily took the second set 25-15.

Charlotte would keep their momentum going as they looked to gain a one set advantage on Marshall. Late in the third set, Sen along with Epps and Anna Henderson would carry the 49ers to victory in third set 25-23.

The beginning of the end for Charlotte would start in the fourth set as Marshall showed heart and resiliency by jumping out to a 14-7 lead. Again, Charlotte’s miscues would allow Marshall to take the fourth set 25-15

The fifth and final set was close up until the midpoint, 8-8. Charlotte would falter and Marshall would end up taking the last set and the match 15-10. Epps led the 49ers offensively with 18 kills hitting .300 in the loss. Sen and McDonald added 11 and 10 kills respectively. Held posted a double-double with 46 assists and 17 digs. Torain would top her previous career high of digs totaling 17 in this match-up.

The Sunday matchup with UAB was a doozy as Charlotte came out slow losing the first set but coming back to win the next three. Charlotte wrapped up the weekend on a good note by winning their second conference game.

The first set was close throughout but the Blazers from UAB kept an upper hand on the lady niners taking the first set in dramatic fashion (25-23). The second set was hard fought by the 49ers as they climbed themselves out of a 20-15 hole as Epps and McDonald would add kills to bring the niners within two. An ace from Jannelle Curtiss brought Charlotte within one. Charlotte would capitalize on two UAB errors to survive and take the second set (25-23). Charlotte would not look back.

They would dominate the third and fourth sets winning by a margin of at least seven points (25-18,25-16) respectively. Sen and McDonald both led the charge as Charlotte would attack on all cylinders crushing UAB’s hope of coming back in the match.

The next match for the 49ers is a non-conference meeting with Winthrop, Tuesday at 7 p.m.

 

49ers prepare for FAU

The 49er football squad hopes to bounce back heavily in their second home and conference game of the season after an embarrassing performance against Middle Tennessee State this past weekend (73-14).

Charlotte was welcomed into the conference with a friendly beat down by one of the conference’s best teams.

Charlotte hopes to clinch their first conference win in Conference USA next weekend versus a struggling Florida Atlantic football team (0-3). This is the first ever meeting between these two programs.

Charlotte’s defense looked good early shutting down Middle Tennessee State on their first drive. Quickly after, Charlotte allowed 49 points in the first half which is the most points they have allowed in a single half in program history. The 73 points allowed over the course of four quarters is also a school record Charlotte isn’t proud to have set. Middle Tennessee State calculated 695 yards of total offense on the evening.

Kalif Phillips and Uriah Lemay accounted for Charlotte’s only touchdowns of the game. Lemay returned an onside kick for a touchdown in the middle of the first quarter. Lemay’s return was only the third kickoff return for a touchdown in 49er football history. Phillips, who also lead the team in rushing with 72 yards, added a rushing touchdown from one yard out in the second quarter. Quarterback, Matt Johnson finished 5-12 for 60 yards and threw two interceptions. He was relieved by Brooks Barden who was 5-16 with 27 yards passing and one interception.

Charlotte didn’t tally any additional points in the second half.

They were completely shut down and by Middle Tennessee State’s grimey defense who proved to be able to commit turnover opportunities. Charlotte only accounted for 219 total yards in the game and had trouble recording first downs throughout the four quarters.

“We have to have a quick memory and come back this week, work hard, learn from this film and get ready for our home opener in conference,” Charlotte head coach Brad Lambert said.

Austin Duke suffered a leg injury early in the first quarter and did not return to the game. His status for next week’s game is unknown.

Florida Atlantic lost last week’s game to Buffalo (33-15) after the Bison tried to redeem themselves following a tough loss the previous week. Florida Atlantic committed four turnovers and their quarterback was sacked twice.

The Florida Atlantic offense who has had quarterback issues, a low red zone efficiency and a frequent turnover rate.

The keys to Charlotte having success in this week’s matchup is cutting down on turnovers. Charlotte accounted for seven turnovers against Middle Tennessee State. The 49ers also need to capitalize on opportunities when in the red zone. Charlotte missed a field goal early in the game against Middle Tennessee State that would’ve potentially given them momentum in the bizarre first quarter.

Lastly, Charlotte needs to fix their miscues, especially in the secondary. Middle Tennessee State registered three 60+ yard plays in the first half alone. the 49ers will need to eliminate FAU’s big play opportunities Saturday night.

Charlotte’s use of a two quarterback’s in the previous game will also be a talking point leading into FAU. If Johnson performs like he did on the road this past week, Barden may get the nod.

Charlotte will need to come out of the gate with a purpose in their next game. the 49ers need to prove that they are worthy of being in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and have a reputation of building a legitimate program in the Conference USA.

The 49ers hope to bounce back with intensity as they perform under the lights for the first time, in front of their home crowd this upcoming Saturday at 7 p.m. at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

49ers fall to Mountaineers

Written by Eric Hudson, Niner Times Intern

The Charlotte 49ers Women’s Volleyball team has faced some major adversity this season after coming off a three game losing streak last weekend at the IUPUI/Hampton Inn Invitational.

This weekend at the Appalachian State Invitational the 49ers had a good run to start off, winning against Liberty in the first game (3-0). The 49ers fell to Missouri and to the Mountaineers to end Saturday. 49ers’ senior Britney Leigh Held was named the weekend’s All-Tournament Team.

Charlotte head coach Karen Weatherington said, “We definitely experienced the emotional and mental drain from two hard fought matches versus Liberty and Missouri.”

Charlotte (3-6) did not have the best start against App State in the first, and immediately falling behind 7-3 in the first. 49ers’ Abreia Epps had back-to-back kills but that wasn’t enough to help Charlotte after App State would go to tally seven of the next nine points to put the Niners down to a 14-7 lead. Charlotte’s Semen Sen would go on to record the next three kills to try and keep the Niners alive at 16-11, but the Mountaineers’ 9-2 run closed the opening set 25-13.

App State (6-4) gave the Niners their first three tallies to start off the second, thanks to Kaylyn Torain kills. The 49ers caught themselves trailing again in the second 13-10 after a held ace and two more throw downs by Epps. The Mountaineers had a 7-0 run that the Niners tried to come back from with a timeout trailing 14-13. Two kills from Sen and Sarah McDonald would knot the contest at 20-20, until the Mountaineers again went streaking, closing set two out on a 5-1 run clinching their 25-21 win.

The Niners fall behind early in the third, and got back within a 9-8, but they couldn’t stop the Mountaineers run, falling at the end of the match 25-18 to end the set. With the Mountaineers up 11-9, an outscoring stretch of 8-1 over the next nine plays gave the hosts a comfortable 19-10 lead. Bradbury and Torain would post their final two kills of the night trying to bring the 49ers back.

Sen and Epps would each record nine kills in the match with Sen hitting over .300 again. Held would notch 27 more assists and a half-dozen digs.

Weatherington said, “Sen was great all weekend offensively and Held executed the offense well and played great defense”.

The Charlotte 49ers Women’s Volleyball team will now return back home to Halton Arena on Friday night to face Furman at 6 p.m.

Weatherington finished with saying, “I’m happy with the momentum we gained this weekend and we look forward to being at home and facing a steady Furman team before our conference opener against UTEP on Monday.”