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March 15, 2013

Billkens bounce 49ers

No. 9 Charlotte, No. 1 Saint Louis BOX SCORE

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - The Charlotte 49ers were beaten 72-55 by the Saint Louis Billikens in the Quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Two quick turnovers in the first minute of play resulted in five Billken (25-6) points and the 49ers (21-12) never led throughout the course of the game.

A 3-pointer by Chris Braswell cut the Billkens lead to three points with 11:36 left in the first half.

The Billikens then capitalized off of three 49er turnovers as they scored 13 straight points to take the lead from 19-16 to 32-16.

Charlotte had a few small runs before the end of the first half as they went into the locker room down 39-28.

Thirteen 49ers turnovers turned into 16 first half points for the Billkens.

The 49ers relied on capitalizing off of the Richmond Spiders blunders in their first round matchup, and seemed to be looking for similar opportunities against Saint Louis. Problem being for Charlotte, the Billikens were as flawless as one can be in tournament style basketball.

Cruising past the 49ers to the rim was junior forward Dwayne Evans who led all scorers with 25 points and 9 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. He was unstoppable while getting position in the paint and slashing to the rim. Evans was 8-for-9 from the field and converted all nine of his free throw attempts.

The Billikens, littered with upper classmen in their lineup, simply dismantled a younger and 49ers team.

Willie Clayton, who had been on a tear recently, struggled working around 6'11" junior Rob Loe in the paint. Clayton still wrapped up with 8 points and 7 rebounds, but 6 of those points came in the first half, as Clayton fouled out with a little over five minutes left in the game.

Although both had 4 turnovers, Braswell and Pierria Henry found success at points in the game. Henry (7 pts, 7 rebounds 5 asts) had a good first half, but as the wheels started to fall-off, Henry left the game at the 3:48 mark with a bruised trachea injury, and was immediately taken to the hospital.

"They're very concerned to be quite honest with you," 49ers Head Coach Alan Major said afterwards. "When a guy has a tough time breathing, I'm not quite sure what it means. The whole team is going to the hospital where he's at, as a team. They said in the locker room they wanted to be with him."

The senior leader of the team, Braswell, was impressive from start to finish with 20 points, and 10 rebounds.

Troubling the 49ers early in the contest were the mistakes by E. Victor Nickerson and Terrence Williams. Nickerson (5 pts, 3 rebounds) shot 20 percent from the field in the first half and his only point in the second was from a free throw. Williams shot 2-for-8 from the field; he finished with 4 points and 3 rebounds. Together those two combined for nine of the 49ers 20 turnovers.

Speaking about the team's turnover struggles, Major commented, "There are [turnovers] where you think you may see something that's not quite there… [Saint Louis] did a great job. They sit on a lot of things. They deny a lot."

Charlotte now plays the waiting game, hoping for an NIT bid. "Hopefully we get a chance to keep playing," Major said. "Any experience we get past this point is a positive build for us."

NOTE: Henry was released from the hospital and rejoined his team on Friday afternoon. The diagnosis was a bruised trachea and he will travel back with the team on Saturday morning.


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