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February 24, 2013

Final stretch begins

With five games remaining, the Charlotte 49ers still have a chance to grab a top-four seed for the Atlantic 10 Tournament in a few weeks. For that to happen, they'll need to defeat the Temple Owls, their opponent today at 4p.m. in Halton Arena.

Each team in the Atlantic 10 was paired up with one other member to play twice and the Owls and 49ers were paired together.

Ironically, both teams will depart the league at the end of the academic year.

The Owls have won their last two, including four of their last five contests. The first win in that stretch was a one point victory over the 49ers in Philadelphia.

That one point victory was the second of five consecutive contests the Owls played that were decided by a one-point margin.

In the last matchup the 49ers had their best offensive game of the year and still lost. They scored a season high 88 points, shot 70 percent from 3-point range and 60.4 percent from the field.

However, they allowed the Owls to get going early and they shot 53.4 percent from the field and made 20-of-28 free throws.

Atlantic 10 scoring leader Khalif Wyatt scored 25 points but it was Jake O'Brien who poured in 22 points on 80 percent shooting from the field and 3-point line that hurt the 49ers.

The Owls also capitalized by scoring 28 points off of 19 49ers' turnovers.

Alan Major knows that his team must do a better job defensively against the Owls this time around.

"I felt we let [Temple] score easily to start the game, and that's not who we are," said Major. "But we had multiple opportunities and stayed in striking distance [during the game]. We were down double-digits late and the kids fought right back to be close at the end. They were painful experiences, but growing experiences nonetheless."

On Friday the 49ers announced that junior guard DeMario Mayfield had been dismissed from the team.

"With all of the roster changes, we're probably coaching our fourth or fifth different team," Major said two days before officially announcing Mayfield's dismissal. "I think with the age of our crew, we're starting to learn that there's a certain margin for error."

With Mayfield eliminated, the 49ers will need Pierria Henry to help fill the offensive load. He's scored in double figures in three of his last four games. In those three games he shot 58.6 percent from the field.

They'll also need senior forward Chris Braswell to pick up his game over the next three weeks. He scored a season high of 23 points against the Owls the last time.


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