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February 24, 2013

Charlotte crumbles against Temple

Temple @ Charlotte BOX SCORE

POST GAME AUDIO

Major, Williams and Clayton address media

Dunphy, Randall and Wyatt address media

The Charlotte 49ers were forced to play catch-up from start to finish Sunday afternoon against the Temple Owls as they were crushed 71-51 in Halton Arena.

The 49ers (18-8, 6-6), who had been near perfect at Halton Arena, had no answer for the Owls (19-8, 8-5) effort and efficiency. "They shot the ball well," said 49ers Head Coach Alan Major afterwards. "They got into a rhythm early and their experience showed through as the game went on."

The Owls blew-out the 49ers in their second matchup by 20 points, proving they had obviously learned something following their first victory against the 49ers (89-88). Capitalizing on the observed weaknesses from earlier in the season, Temple's veteran leadership had no trouble winning again.

It was a pick-your-poison situation early for the 49ers; as they worked to isolate the Atlantic 10's leading scorer Khalif Wyatt (19.7 ppg), other Owls' were antsy to make a quick impact.

Wyatt finished with 12 points, but his backcourt companion Scootie Randall had 18 points (3-5 3-pt). The Owls exposed the 49ers ineptitude of guarding jumpers, particularly perimeter shooting; the Owls shot 10-for-24 from three-point range, and froze 49er defenders with quick, low-risk passing.

Officiating was a popular topic for both sides in the post-game; mainly concerning the threshold of physicality allowed inside, and the officiating crews multiple long-pauses of action to determine calls.

Willie Clayton was in the mix for a couple calls and had this to add about the game, "I don't want to say the refs weren't calling the game right, but [Temple] got some cheap-shots in, and some things were overlooked." With similar thoughts, Coach Major said, "I'll never point the finger at officials, but they (Temple) were very physical around the rim."

Although the 49ers out-rebounded the Owls, collecting 20 offensively, to the Owls 9, the 49ers early deficit forced them to attempt uncharacteristic shots. "The guys know that wasn't us today from an identity standpoint," Major said.

The 49ers had an abysmal day from 3-point land as they connected on 1-of-12 attempts, perhaps getting too aggressive, abandoning play in the paint and trading those chances for riskier long-range opportunities.

There was limited ball-movement offensively for the 49ers, and the most startling statistic for the 49ers was the 27.4-field goal percentage (17-62). Pierria Henry finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds but he was 3-for-14 from the field.

Redshirt freshman Mike Thorne had his best game as a 49er. He posted career highs in points (10), field goals (4), field goal attempts (7), rebounds (7, 6 offensive) and minutes played (18).

"I felt that Mike Thorne grew up before our eyes tonight," Major said. "He played with a lot of energy."

February has been a month to forget for Major and the 49ers. As stated before, the 49ers had an exemplary record at Halton Arena (10-0) all the way through the homecoming win against UMass; since then they have lost their last two home games (VCU, Temple).

Obtaining their signature win of the season on Feb. 13 against the Butler Bulldogs (No. 10 at the time) has been overshadowed by the 2-4 monthly record.

Since DeMario Mayfield's suspension-turned-dismissal starting on Jan. 30, the team has found point production off the bench to mask the loss of their junior guard's absence, but have struggled in other key areas resulting in the multiple two-game skids.

"We need to get our defensive edge back; early in the season our offense came from our defense," Terrence Williams said about the direction the team's been going in recently, "all we need to do is get back to playing defense, get stops, get rebounds, and go in transition."

Clayton had a protective boot strapped on his right foot following the contest. Clayton had 4 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals against the Owls.

The 49ers will host the Dayton Flyers (14-12, 4-8) this Wednesday in Halton Arena. They'll try to close out the month of February on a positive note, and then put it behind them as they inch closer to tournament-play.

With the loss, an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament likely evaporated. Their NCAA fortunes will hinge on their performance in the Atlantic 10 Tournament next month in Brooklyn.


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