Sam Palian

58 POSTS 0 COMMENTS

Niners fall one short of four-win weekend; reach season highs against UNCW

Carson Pace winds up for a pitch. Photo by Katelynn Pennington.

The Charlotte 49ers held their First Pitch Classic this past weekend sliding through with three impressive wins, but couldn’t seem to get an offense going against Radford in their second game on Friday afternoon. The Niners also reached some new season highs in the final game of the weekend and Coach Aimee DeVos tallied her 600th win.

Game One – Charlotte 6, Dayton 5

In the first game of the Classic, Charlotte rallied for a comeback walk-off in extra innings to give Coach DeVos her 600th win.

Haley Wiseman and Flyer, Manda Cash both pitched scoreless innings until the Niners kicked off the runs with two in the bottom of the fourth. Wiseman struck out seven batters, including five of the first six that came to the plate.

Dayton would then grab their 4-2 lead adding three runs in the fifth and another in the sixth. Now Charlotte was behind with two outs and two girls on base.

Grace Beatty helped to tie it up scoring in Kiersten Berrier from second and Haley Pace from first. The Flyers would answer with one more run in the top of the eighth leaving the Niners in place to have to score again.

With Meredith Harris on second, Spenser Gray would bunt to push her to third with a single out left. With an error from Dayton’s third baseman, Bethany Doty sent Harris in to home and Erin Powers would pinch run for Doty still with only one out left. The Niners were now tied yet again.

Becca Shipper stepped up to the plate to hit a walk-off single to right center field to end the game with the first Charlotte win of the weekend.

Game 2 – Radford 8, Charlotte 0

In the second game of Friday afternoon, Charlotte couldn’t seem to give quite the same offense against the Highlanders.

Radford tallied two runs to start of the match in the first inning and added five more in the second. Charlotte left the bases loaded in both the third and fourth innings, but were unable to capitalize. Radford went on to score an eighth run in the fifth for the final run of the day.

Berrier and Pace would each add two hits for the Niners. Junior Lauren Riley stepped on the mound to see her first action of the season, pitching 3.2 innings to relieve Alison Green, and allowed only one run and struck out two batters.

Game 3 – Charlotte 4, Dayton 0

Charlotte came back the next day ready to grab another solid win, clinching their first shutout of the season over Dayton.

Four Niners reached base in the first inning, allowing for Wiseman to keep a 2-0 lead.

Shipper walked to get it going and moved to second when Berrier sent a bunt to just the right spot. Pace sent a hit to left field to put the Niners at a 1-0 lead and Grace Beatty added another, sending one shooting past the third baseman to score Shipper in.

Charlotte then added another run in the fourth inning and in the fifth to get their fourth run. Emma Ocker singled to left field and got pushed to second by Jude McGough’s bunt with an out left.

Shipper hit off the fifth by a double and then moved on to third courtesy of a bunt from Berrier. Pace added her second RBI of the game with a fly way out to right.

Dayton only came close with the bases loaded in the sixth inning with two outs when Wiseman tallied her final strikeout of the evening. Rhoney had the final out with runners on first and third to finalize the Niners’ shutout.

Game 4 – Charlotte 7, UNCW 3

Reaching new season highs, Charlotte crushed a 7-3 win over UNCW in their final match of the weekend.

Carson Pace relieved Wiseman with two outs in the fourth and Domique Travers sent Kali Jones home and came home herself off of a homer down left field from Meghan Whitecavage.

Pace would allow only only hit and strike out two batters in 2.1 innings. Rhoney then pitched a perfect seventh inning to finish out the final Charlotte win of the weekend.

Haley Pace sent an RBI down left field to score Becca Shipper who led off the inning with a walk and moved further through the bases thanks to a bunt from Berrier. Charlotte put up four more runs off of only four hits in the fourth inning. Lizzy Birch and Meredith Harris sent back-to-back doubles just after Ocker hit an infield single. Harris would bring both Ocker and Birch in.

Shipper sent a single right inside first base to score Harris and put Spenser Gray who walked, on to third. Doty led off with a walk in the fifth and McGough would pinch run to score off of a triple from Ocker.

The Niners tallied 11 hits matching their season high and reached new season highs in doubles and in runs scored.

Next up, Charlotte will face USC Upstate next at 2 and 4 p.m. at Sue M. Daughtrige Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Just like old times

A group of players, past and present, take a photo on center court. Photo by Chris Crews

In 1985, Jeff Mullins inherited a last place team in the Sun Belt conference, and three years later he would take them to the conference championship for an incredible win. The Niners would receive an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, being the only team in the conference to get one, their first since 1977. Now, Charlotte hosts an alumni game to honor the staff and players who were a part of the program at the time and among other years.

“I’m back here today because we’re honoring the ‘88 team and that was our first group, you know the burner was real down and they were just a determined bunch of guys. We had a really good year my third season here and we weren’t that talented, but they really blended together,” former Coach Jeff Mullins said (‘85-‘96). “It’s great to see everybody again and hear about what they’re doing, and see their families who are here. It’s just special.”

Not only did the Niners win a Sun Belt Championship, but they have had some other impressive runs as well. Several years earlier, coach Lee Rose led the Niners to the NIT and then the next season, all the way to the NCAA Final Four. Michael Stikeleather who was an athletic trainer for the team at the time, spent the afternoon this past Saturday coaching one of the teams in the alumni game.

“Nobody expected us to go to the NIT. We were some Cinderella team that got to beat some big school from the ACC, we stormed the court and it was just crazy, we blocked that last second shot to beat NC State. We went on to the final to play University of Kentucky and we hung right with them, but we just couldn’t quite pull that one out. But, we had Cedric Maxwell who went on to play for the Boston Celtics won the MVP for the tournament,” Stikeleather said. “Now, the next year we went on to the NCAA tournament and played Marquette in the Final Four and they won 51-49. Of course, we shocked everyone because we took Marquette to the final seconds. In the finals, they played UNC Chapel Hill and Marquette beat them, so it felt nice to have played as well as we did.”

In Charlotte’s first year in the Sun Belt conference, they had what was was arguably their best season in program history and they didn’t let up in the next few seasons either.

Now, with the alumni games, those players and staff get to relive those moments a little and it has just become one of those things that fills their hearts all over again. Coach Houston Fancher looked forward to the event and recalled a time when he was watching these players live in those particular moments.

“On that ‘88 team, Byron Dinkins was one of the first basketball players I remember seeing for Charlotte when I first learned about Charlotte basketball. I remember him being one of the most talented guards I ever saw play. I thought he was fantastic and he led that team and that team fed off of him, his energy, his talent. He’s turned into a terrific coach here in the area as well,” Fancher said.

In addition to an admiration for the players, Fancher also has a personal relation with some of the guys.

“Chris Baker played on that team back in that era too and I actually babysat Chris when he was a youngster back in my hometown. His grandfather ran the city park in our hometown and I worked for the city during my summers and my job was to watch Chris. Turns out Chris ended up being a point guard here at Charlotte and we still remain good friends to this day. He always comes to our game when we play at Western Kentucky, so I see him there too, but he’s a guy I’ve always been fond of.”

Niners hold their own with UAB; can’t get a win

Andrien White drives to the basket around a defender. Photo by Chris Crews.

Even with Andrien White dropping 23 coming off of an injury to lead Charlotte (5-15, 1-8 C-USA), they were still unable to pull out a win over UAB (15-8, 6-4 C-USA). The Niners lost 76-64 after being tied 40-40 at the half.

“We didn’t have to play from behind tonight, we got off to a better start which is something we’ve been looking for. Some of the same shots that fell in the first half weren’t falling in the second half,” Coach Houston Fancher said. “But, you know there’s controllable things. We talked about our free throws and our turnovers and thing that we’re charge of. There were a lot of good things to pull out from tonight other than a win.”

White, who led the team with 23 points showed once again how much he has to give this season, coming back form an injury, tallying his 48th career double-figure scoring game. Jon Davis also did his part yet again having 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Ryan Murphy working to stay on his hot streak, also gave the Niners 10 points, remaining in double-figures for a third game. Najee Garvin would grab 12 rebounds to do his part as well as add nine points.

“I think it is tough to keep bouncing back. I think our team is together enough that coming in and and being in the locker room with those guys every day and getting on the floor and competing with them every day, we don’t mind bouncing back at all. We’re here to do that and that’s what we’re going to keep doing until the last buzzer sounds,” White said.

Charlotte began the game well with a 9-2 lead after Austin Ajukwa got the Niners started with a three and Davis, Garvin and Murphy would each add a lay-up. UAB cut down the trail by the end of the fourth minute, but a three from Davis would send it right back up. A constant battle by the Blazers to get back up seemed to always be followed by Charlotte just barely maintaining their lead.

By the end of the eighth minute UAB held a lead of 15-14 and furthered their lead to 26-17 with eight minutes remaining in the first half. A few crowd-exciting threes from White and Murphy, as well as a lay-up from Murphy got Charlotte back in it, tied with UAB at 33 points. The half would conclude at 40-40.

Ajukwa would help the Niners to tie the game again at 48 six minutes in to the second half, but the next time UAB gained a lead they would keep it for nearly the remainder of the game.

Charlotte tied the game again at 50 points and White even got the 49ers close again making the score 54-53, but Charlotte never gain another lead only getting as close as within a couple points.

“It’s hard to keep coming, it’s hard to keep bouncing back,” Fancher said. “I believe in these kids and they believe in and trust each other and continue to work. They come to practice every day and give us everything they have and in the position I’m in right now, that’s all I can ask for. I think we’ll ultimately get to the point where we start winning some basketball games.”

Charlotte had the first half that they had been looking for, they just couldn’t keep it going. A showing of teamwork and a fight that they had been needing wouldn’t be enough.

Charlotte will next face first in the conference, Middle Tennessee, in Halton Arena this Saturday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.

Fancher ties on apron for cancer fundraising

Fancher serves subs for fundraising. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Athletics

Men’s basketball head coach Houston Fancher changed roles to a sandwich artisan at the Subway on campus for an hour on Tuesday, Jan. 23, as a part of Subway’s Coaches Versus Cancer fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

“I think it’s imperative we stand up and fight this. It’s not going to go away on its own. It’s important that we step forward, make contributions and do what we can to help fight this dreaded disease,” Fancher said. “I just love the opportunity to be out here, to be on the platform that I’m on right now and step aside and do something in support of this great cause. I’m all for it.”

Donations can be made at the Subway in the Cone Center through the end of February. The money raised  will help better and save lives from cancer. The money that goes to the society help to provide access to better care and prevention of cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.

Many coaches now participate and raise money in whatever ways they can through events including 3-point challenges and the Suits and Sneakers.

“Some of the coaches in our region are all stepping forward and spending some time at Subway to help promote this cause. I think it’s important for us to step outside of our box so that we can do things too to help fight this,” Fancher said.

The awareness continues through Saturday when the 49ers turn their attention to their attire. All of the events are aimed at one goal: raise money and attention for cancer research.

“It’s Coaches Versus Cancer Weekend in the NCAA this weekend, so we’ll be wearing tennis shoes with our suits during our games to once again raise awareness and that’s why we’re here today. To raise awareness, to draw support and to continue to fight this dreaded disease.”

Fancher said he prepared for the hour of making sandwiches for students by making an abundance of sandwiches for his family the night before. As a coach on campus, he has spent his own time standing in the lines at Subway in Cone and knew exactly what to expect come the time for students to be getting out of their 11 o’clock classes.

“We can excite students and make them aware of what’s going on here. They enjoy the process here, I’m not sure if they enjoy their sandwiches or not, but I hope they’ll be aware that what we are trying to fight here, we’ve got to do it together,” Fancher said.

Students seemed to really enjoy meeting Fancher in this environment, and he certainly seemed to enjoy it as well. The coach was incredibly light-hearted about making sandwiches for everyone while trying to help bring awareness to the cause of Coaches versus Cancer.

“I think it’s a team fight, it’s something that we are all together trying to do, it’s not just an individual doing that. We’re helping to raise awareness and that’s what makes me excited about it, it gives me a chance to say, ‘Hey, this something that we need to do together,’” Fancher said.

The 49ers will play their Suits and Sneakers game on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. against Old Dominion in Halton Arena.

Conference conundrum

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.”

Charlotte unable to make a comeback; loses to FAU 75-64

Jon Davis goes up for a layup. Photo by Chris Crews.

With Jon Davis seemingly getting back in his own rhythm and dropping 25, the Niners had three in double figures, but this would not be enough to give Charlotte (5-12, 1-5 C-USA) a second conference win. FAU (9-9, 3-3 C-USA) would come out on top at a score of 75-64.

Davis lead the 49ers with his 25 points, tallying his 23rd 2o-point scoring game and his 57th double-figure scoring game as well as grabbing four rebounds. Austin Ajukwa would be just behind with 14 points and a solid eight rebounds. Milos Supica also reached double figures coming off of the bench, scoring 12 points for Charlotte.

Florida Atlantic would not differ too much, with four in double figures. Justin Massey led with 19 points.

After beginning the game at a score of 4-0, Charlotte came back and tied the game at 10 with a basket from Ajukwa almost five minutes into play.

After the 12th minute of the half, the Niners were down 24-15 but responded with a 10-2 run to bring their deficit to only one, at 26-25. Luka Vasic, Supica, Davis and Ajukwa with two free throws at the end of the run, would all contribute.

The first half would conclude with a score of 38-27.

Almost two and a half minutes into the second half FAU was leading 42-29. Four points from Davis and a three from Ryan Murphy cut the lead to 42-36 before the 15-minute mark.

Florida Atlantic then went on an 8-2 run to bring their lead up to 12 points. Upon the last 12 minutes of the game, Charlotte would score 12 of the next 18 points to get the Niners as close as they would get the rest of the night after a score by Davis brought the score to 56-50.

Charlotte was outscored 38-27 in the first half, but would try rising to the occasion in the second half scoring an equal number of points to FAU at 37.

Florida Atlantic scored 22 of their points off of Charlotte turnovers while the Niners would add 17 points off of FAU turnovers.

“In the second half, we did get our offense going, but we did turn the ball over and those are things that are biting us right now. We’ve got to take care of the ball, value possession. There are a lot of things that are under our control that we’ve got to work on strengthening up a little bit,” said coach Houston Fancher.

Charlotte will play a second game on the road at FIU, Saturday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m.

White drops 30 points; Charlotte gets a win

Andrien White goes up for a shot. Photo by Chris Crews

Andrien White, who had a 30-point game that tied his career-best, along with two others in double figures, helped Charlotte (4-6) push past four straight losses to a big win over East Carolina (5-5) at 69-50.

The Niners were able to keep the Pirates down to four points for the first 10 minutes of play, while scoring 12 points themselves.

A layup in the fourteenth minute of the first half by Austin Ajukwa gave Charlotte a 16-13 lead. ECU would soon break away to make an 18-10 run on the Niners to take the lead for the first half at a score of 31-26.

Charlotte would again begin the half with a sense of urgency, scoring the first five points with a three from White as well as a jumpshot by Najee Garvin. Nearing the end of the third minute of second half play, the Pirates had a 35-33 lead and to this the Niners responded in the next nine minutes with a 22-2 run to take a lead at 55-37.

ECU would try to make a comeback, cutting the lead back down to 15 points, but would get no closer. With less than two minutes left in the game, Jon Davis would send the ball to Garvin for dunk that would give Charlotte their largest lead.

White scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half, contributing greatly to the 49ers win and to their outscoring of the Pirates 43-19 in that half. In the earlier part of the half, he would go on a 13 point run for Charlotte as well as grabbing six rebounds and finding four steals.

Ajukwa would add his 16th career double-figure scoring game with 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Milos Supica would come off of the bench to obtain his first ever career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Davis would add nine points, four rebounds and six assists. Garvin would also contribute six points, five rebounds and four assists.

The Niners would finish on top for rebounds as well, at a 46-39 advantage, 14 of those being offensive slightly contributing to the 44 points they scored in the paint. Their defense and value of the ball would force 18 turnovers by the Pirates which would lead to 24 points coming off of those turnovers. Charlotte kept ECU at a field percentage of under thirty-four percent and a percentage of under ten from the three. Charlotte would go nearly fourty-four percent from the field and nearly twenty-four from behind the three.

The 49ers will next play USF in Tampa, Florida at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21 for their last non-conference game.

Niners fall to Deacons; slip into 3-5 record

Jon Davis heads into the paint for a score. Photo by Chris Crews.

Charlotte (3-5) was unable to get a win in their meeting with Wake Forest (5-4), losing 80-57. The Niners were unable to keep up their work as a unit to play solid defense and maintain control and possession of the ball.

Jon Davis lead the Niners with 14 points while Murphy would be just behind him with 9 points off of his three baskets from behind the three point line.

Within the first five minutes of play, the game would see it’s only two lead changes of the night as well as it’s only three ties. The Deacons held a 5-0 lead until Jailan Haslem would get sent to the line to make a free throw and give Charlotte their first points of the game. Davis would then take a steal and turn it into into a crowd-shaking dunk on a breakaway. In the next Charlotte possession Haslem would add an offensive rebound put-back to tie the game at 5-5 at 17:15. Hudson Price would bring Charlotte to their first lead of the night with with a layup to bring the game to 7-5 Niners.

Some more quick points by a few Deacons, including team-leading scorer Bryant Crawford, a layup from Hudson Price and some free throw by Davis put the game at 10-9, Wake Forest at 15:57.

After Wake Forest took back the lead with two free throws, Ryan Murphy would sink a three off of the backboard to tie Charlotte 12-12 at 15:26. In the next eight minutes the Niners would only score four to the Deacon’s 20 points.

A portion of the Niners’ bench would contribute to the scoring, but would only add 26 to Wake Forest’s 44. Murphy led the bench with nine while Jaylan McGill also contributing seven. Najee Garvin would add six from the bench and Milos Supica chipped in six.

Charlotte would finish the game at only 30.4 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from the three, but would shoot 80% from the free throw line going 22-31. The Deacons would only go 13-23 from the line, shooting only 56.5 percent.

“We’ve got to find a way to get it going, we’re not playing good basketball right now,” said Coach Mark Price. “You’ve got to make shots and you can’t turn the ball over, it’s as simple as that and we didn’t do either one of those things well.”

The Charlotte 49ers will hit the court again on the road, Sunday, Dec. 10th at 1 p.m. against the Chattanooga Mocs.

 

 

Niners lose battle for the Hornet’s Nest

Andrien White goes up for a jumpshot. Photo by Chris Crews.

Of only two Charlotte players in double digits, including Hudson Price with 10 for his third double figure scoring game of the season, Andrien White led the Niners with 22, stepping up to have his fourth double digit game this season in the midst of come-and-go teammate the evening, Jon Davis. Although the Niners came closer than their past two meeting, they would again fall to Davidson 85-70 in Halton Arena.

“I think our game plan was strong, all we had to do was execute on the offensive and the defensive end. I think that’s the one thing we’ll take away from this, is just executing what we’ve been working on all week,” White said.

White’s fourth double digit scoring game of the season was also the 40th of his career and came directly after a game in which he scored only four points and played only 14 minutes.

He certainly rose up to play a role in the Niners’ battle against the Wildcats, also going 12-13 from the free throw line and grabbing seven rebounds, as would Price.

Davidson’s level of intensity seemed to be a little too much for Charlotte at first, not giving them much time to get back on defense and get a stop very often. Even so, Charlotte contested fairly well and kept Davidson from knocking down as many shots as they probably would have otherwise.

“We knew they were going to come in hungry and we needed to be the tougher team tonight and we just weren’t. That’s something we’ve got to be able to find,” said Coach Mark Price.

Charlotte never caught up more than than the two point deficit that they reached in the first half. Davidson would hold a lead for the entirety of the game, with a halftime score of 37-32.

Coming out of a Charlotte timeout, Najee Garvin who would contribute eight points would finally bring the deficit to single digits at 18-10. The Niners would stay within single digits through the rest of the first half.

Charlotte’s bench would score 21 points, outdoing Davidson’s bench with only 18 points. Milos Supica and Jailan Haslem would lead with eight and six points, respectively. The Niner’s also scored 16 points off of 17 Davidson turnovers while the Wildcats only score 15 points off of 17 turnovers.

Davis would hit a jumper to bring the Niners to a 37-34 deficit to open the second half play.

Davidson would break away again after the first five minutes of second half play, keeping Charlotte from getting within more than 12 points for the rest of game, finishing the night with a 15-point lead.

Wildcats Peyton Aldridge and Kellan Grady would hit 2o point scoring games with 25 and 22 points. Two other Davidson players would reach double digits, with Jon Gudmunsson scoring 12 and Rusty Riegel adding 11.

Even so, what looked like it was going to be a repeat of an unfortunate night for free throw shooting, took a turn when White ended up at the line quite a bit to go 12-13 and lead the Niners to a free throw percentage of 65.4 percent.

Charlotte would go 4-8 behind the three-point line while their defense would keep Davidson from going more than 4-15 from the three. By the end of the game, the Niners had outdone the Wildcats from both the free throw line and the three point, but simply wouldn’t get as many good shots off from the field.

The Niners continued to make a come back-like run, but unfortunately were unable to clinch the Hornet’s Nest.

Charlotte looks for their next win on the road in a non-conference game against James Madison in Harrisonburg, Virginia on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m.

Pieces of a puzzle

Jon Davis hangs on the rim as he dunks the ball. Photo by Chris Crews.

The Charlotte 49ers now have a record of 3-2 after cranking out a win in a close game against High Point at 70-67 this past Friday.

The Niners are experiencing quite a battle with themselves, taking one step forward and two steps back fairly often early in the season. They continue to rush into a winning record, yet are still struggling to play as a unit.

After a triple digit win and two losses, Charlotte began spreading out their play and using all of their teammates, as they hadn’t really been doing before, in a win against Presbyterian.

With four players in double digits, 45 points off of the bench, 17 points off of turnovers, three players with five or more rebounds and five players combining for 17 assists, Charlotte certainly made strides in their teamwork in their win against Presbyterian.

“We have to know not to settle, not to just rest on one win,” Charlotte’s current leading-scorer, Jon Davis said.

Of course, with any win there are things to learn from and things to improve upon, which is something that Charlotte coach Mark Price definitely realizes.

In their game against High Point, Charlotte faced a little bit of a tough situation when players started fouling out and getting hurt.

Hudson Price played admirably, scoring 17 points going 4-4 from the field, 2-2 from the three point line and 7-7 from the free throw line. Price exemplified how a player should handle himself as a teammate, stepping up and doing exactly what his team needed from him regardless of the situation. A major piece of the puzzle Charlotte is working so hard to finish.

Unfortunately in this win, the Niners faltered a little bit in their improvements as a team. They continued to spread out their scoring yet again, but they played a little more as individuals in this battle than as a team. Alongside Price, Najee Garvin had 13 points and Davis had 9 while Luka Vasic and Jailan Haslem each scored 8 points.

Comparatively, in the win against the Blue Hose, the 49ers had 17 total assists and scored 45 bench points, while against the Panthers they only acquired 10 assists and 24 points off of the bench.

Unlike Price alone, the team was not so lucky from the free throw line, going 20-37, missing an unacceptable number of free throws.

Even so, Charlotte had a very well executed defense, holding High Point’s leading scorer in Andre Fox to 10 points and only had 14 turnovers themselves. The Niners also forced 20 turnovers by the Panthers to gather 28 points.

“We had to play a lot of young guys and I’m proud of them for hanging in and I’m proud of them for getting the win. It wasn’t pretty and we missed way too many free throws as we had a chance to put it away and that’s a learning lesson for our young guys,” said Mark Price.

With a final record last season of 13-17, knowing not to settle is something this team does in fact need to keep in mind as they progress through this season. Charlotte absolutely has all the right pieces, they simply need to keep allowing themselves to be coachable and keep working on fitting all of those pieces together to make something truly great.

Niners pull out win over Blue Hose

Ryan Murphy shoots for a three. Photo by Chris Crews.

Charlotte brought Presbyterian’s record to 1-4 Monday night and their own to 2-2, after pushing past the Blue Hose with a win at a score of 83-74. Jon Davis recorded his 49th career double figure scoring game and his 20th 20-point scoring game, leading the Niners with 24 points as well as recording 3 rebounds.

Davis also had 7 assists to help his teammates gather 19 points throughout the game including points by Ryan Murphy, Austin Ajukwa, Jailan Haslem, Jaylan McGill and Andrien White.

With four players in double figures, Murphy, Ajukwa and Milos Supica all followed Davis with 11 points each. Together, the team shot 41.7% from the three point line in the first half, going 5-12, which is the same three point percentage the Niners shot by the conclusion of their last game in a loss against College of Charleston. A tremendous improvement that may otherwise go unnoticed, shows this team is working to better themselves as an all around offensive threat.

“We spaced the floor better, that was something we emphasized yesterday. Guys weren’t getting to their spots consistently and it wasn’t allowing Jon to penetrate and we’ve got to get him space so that he can draw defenses and make the plays and I thought we did a much better job of that night,” head coach Mark Price said.

Other players contributed to Charlotte’s winning score as well. Najee Garvin gathered nine, Haslem with five, White with four, Hudson Price and McGill each had a three and Luka Vasic gave Charlotte two. The team led the game in points off the bench 45-17 behind Murphy, Ajukwa and Supica’s points.

Murphy recorded his first career double figuring scoring game with his 11 points, going 3-5 from the three point line, certainly making his playing time count coming off of his redshirt season.

The Niners and the Blue Hose had quite a tight, back and forth game for nearly the first seven minutes of the game until Ajukwa hit a three to give Charlotte the lead for most of the half. At 5:49 Ajukwa would get a tip-in giving Charlotte their last big lead of the first half over Presbyterian at 33-27. Within the last five minutes of first half play, the Blue Hose would score 11 points to put them on top with a score of 38-33 at the conclusion of the first half.

Charlotte then scored 14 of the first 24 points in the second half bringing their deficit to only one point behind when Murphy scored a three with 14:50 left on the clock bringing the score to 48-47.

With 12:30 left, Ajukwa scored his final three, giving Charlotte a lead that would keep climbing for the rest of the night at 52-50.

Seven points by Reggie Dillard and a layup by Davon Bell within three minutes brought the score back to within only one point by 9:21, but Charlotte would be able to keep their lead and get a win. Dillard and Bell were Presbyterian’s leading scorers with 18 and 27 points.

Haslem led the team with seven rebounds starting off with three in the first two minutes of the game to set the tone for his playing time. Price and Garvin would also have six and five rebounds, respectively.

The 49ers may have a lot of hard work to put in, but they are certainly starting to translate that work into wins and hope to continue to do so.

“I think it starts with the guys that have been here before, we have to know not to settle, not to just rest on one win because it’s a long season. This is only our fourth game. So, it’s a quick turn around, we have a game against a good team Friday, so we go home, be happy about the win, have a day off tomorrow, but we’ve got to get back in the gym on Wednesday and get ready for High Point,” Davis said.

Charlotte will face High Point University in Halton Arena for their third of four straight home games on Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m.

Charlotte suffers first loss; Davis gets 1000th point

Jon Davis goes in for a layup. Photo by Chris Crews.

The Niners (1-1) were unable to comeback in their road game at Oklahoma State and lost the game 83-65. The loss seemed to be a combination of failing to knock down as many shots and preventing the Cowboys (2-0) from doing so, as well as the Niners could have.

With any loss comes experiences to learn from and probably a little disappointment, but junior Jon Davis is always impressing Charlotte. He became the 27th player in school history to 1000 career points. He got to his 1000th point with 3:33 left on the clock in the first half when he took and made two free throws.

Davis finished with 15 points for his 47th career double figure scoring game while Andrien White led the Niners with 18 points for his 38th career double figure scoring game.

Charlotte made it into the paint to pull down shots slightly more than Oklahoma State even did, but simply could not score as many field goals. Kendall Smith would lead five other Cowboys in double figures with 19 points.

They scored the first seven points, but two free throws by Davis and a nice layup by Hudson Price would break down Charlotte’s deficit some to a score of 7-4 with already 16:29 left in the first half.

At the half, the Niners were down 47-26 and although they didn’t make the comeback they needed they did in fact manage to outscore their opponent 39-36.

Coming out of the second half, Ryan Murphy scored six and Milos Supica scored five points off of the bench for Charlotte.

Price, Austin Ajukwa, Jailan Haslem and Najee Garvin each contributed four points to Charlotte’s score while freshmen Jaylan McGill and Bryant Thomas added three and two  points, respectively.

Charlotte returns home at Halton Arena to play College of Charleston in the first of a three home game run this Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

Racing to the finish

The women’s team celebrating with their trophies after their conference victory. Photo courtesy Charlotte Athletics

Charlotte Cross Country consists of many incredible athletes whose hard work sometimes gets overlooked.

Several of these athletes as well as their coaches have continuously proven this season especially, why that is changing. With Conference USA honors, top finishes by both teams including a championship title, as well as an individual title at both the C-USA championship meet as well as the NCAA Southeast Regional.

Women

As a team, Charlotte claimed the C-USA Championship, tallying 64 points ahead of runner-up Southern Miss’ 87 points. It is the program’s fourth conference championship, the first since Charlotte’s three wins from ‘92-’94. Two-time NCAA Track All-America Caroline Sang took the individual championship title, deservedly so.

“The first team meeting of the year we talked about having that expectation of winning the conference championship and performing day in and out at that mindset and that level. Going in, both teams knew they had a shot at winning. The guys gave it everything we had, on the ladies side we were aggressive and took control of the race right from the beginning,” said Coach Joseph Lynn. “Caroline did an amazing job of running controlled and smooth and honestly I think if she needed to, she had a little bit left in the tank. I think we finally did what we’ve been seeing in practice every day.”

Sang is the first woman at Charlotte to win such an individual title since Amanda Goetschius in the 2008 A-10 5000m. She is the second woman to win a C-USA individual title, the first since Molly Kerin in 1995. Her collegiate course record time of 16:27.9 is also the fastest 5k in school history by almost thirty seconds and the third fastest time in a C-USA championship ever.

Brittany Stanley finished seventh, being placed on the All C-USA first team along with Sang. Katie Tomasi placed 15th and Bridget Abbatiello placed 18th, both earning spots on the All C-USA second team. Alexia Noch would place 23rd, just barely missing a spot on the third team.

Sang, Stanley, Tomasi and Abbatiello became the fourth foursome in program history to earn all-conference honors at the same conference championship since ‘98.

The Niners entered the meet unranked in Southeast region, having defeated four of the teams they competed against, who were ranked in their regions. Behind Charlotte’s winning 64 points, and Southern Miss’ 87 points were Rice with 95 points, UAB with 97 points and in fifth was North Texas with 135 points.

Charlotte Coach Lynn was named C-USA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year.

“With his technique of coaching us, he’s more into progressing the runner as an individual. He wants us to focus on our strengths rather than our weaknesses. He’s very into the little things,” said men’s runner Mihret Coulter.

At the NCAA Southeast Regional, Sang took home the individual title which grants her an NCAA national quailing spot. She is now the first Charlotte runner to win an individual title at regionals.

Men

The men who entered the championship meet ranked 8th in the Southeast region, would place 2nd as a team. This was the highest placed finish for the men since the 2002 C-USA Championship.

With Coulter finishing third, Tom Nobles finishing fourth, Zach Marchinko finishing sixth and Alex Cornwell finishing seventh they are now the first foursome to finish in the top 10 since ‘98. These four as well as Todd Gunzenhauser earned All C-USA honors becoming the first five Niners to gain five conference awards at a championship, the previous high being four in ‘98.

Although these young men may not have won a championship title they certainly reached new highs for their team for themselves.

Nobles earned his second straight All C-USA first team honor while Marchinko added a first team honor after receiving second team last season. Coulter and Cornwell also earned first team spots and Gunzenhauser earned third team, these being the first of such honors for all three runners.

“I think in my mind, for us, conference would’ve been cool to win, but our goal has always been the bigger meets like regionals and ideally making it to nationals. So after that meet, Middle Tennessee talked about how great of a performance they had and just knowing that we were that close kinda shows that we were there and we can still perform really well at regionals. I think it just gave us a little more motivation.” Nobles said.

Nobles and Marchinko each with two All-Conference awards ties them for the fourth most in program history.

Gunzenhauser ran a personal best 8K time of 25:18.8 as well as Matt Bomkamp and Matt Conner with times of 25:40.4 and 26:05.4, respectively.

The men’s team finished sixth at the NCAA Regional.

“It makes us hungry. We came in second in our conference. Our goal is to get to nationals and put Charlotte on the map,” said Coulter. “It’s an honor. I get to train with these guys every day. I know what they put in and they know what I put in. We grind together, it’s just nice to see us getting compensated for all the hard work we’re putting in here.”

Charlotte unable to clinch championship title

#16 Fernando Garcia

Charlotte (8-5-6) fell to ODU in the Conference USA Conference Championship at a score of 1-0. A very well contended game consisted of tough defenses throughout the entirety of play, but would not be enough for the Niners to push through and even up the score or get a win.

In the 28th minute, Niko Klosterhalfen scored the game’s first and only goal off of a loose ball right inside the 18 and sent the ball into the lower left corner of the net just past Charlotte goalkeeper Elliot Panicco.

Charlotte only gave up two goals for the four that they gathered throughout the tournament.

Again, it was a game led by defensive efforts, with both teams taking a few shots in the first half and with only one of those shots leading to a goal as the Monarchs were able to capitalize on one of those opportunities where the Niners unfortunately were not.

Ryan Spaulding would have the best Charlotte shot of the match, hitting a shot right off the crossbar after ODU goalkeeper just got a touch on the ball in the 49th minute of play.

The team outshot the Monarchs 8-7 again and they would take two corners as Charlotte would only take one, again showing how incredible of a defensive game this championship match was.

Teddy Chaouche, Tommy Madden and Marco Sunol-Rojas each earned All-Tournament Team Honors.

Last season Charlotte at 12-4-2 got as far as the first round of the C-USA tournament and fell to New Mexico. This season was the closest they have gotten to another C-USA Championship title since they won the tournament in 2013.

The Niners wait to see if the earn a bid into the NCAA tournament at 1 p.m. this afternoon.