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January 31, 2014

Lester ties season-high 24 points in win over Florida Atlantic

CHARLOTTE - They say the third time's the charm. Well, this held true for the Charlotte 49ers (13-7) as they defeated the Florida Atlantic Owls (7-14) 62-53 at the Halton Arena Thursday night.

"The game had a kind of a physical, smash-mouth Big-Ten pace to it," said Coach Alan Major.

The 49ers leading scorer Shawn Lester tied his season-high in points with 24 and 11 rebounds proving once again why he is a legitimate sixth man in Conference-USA basketball.

"Coach has been on me about turnovers," Lester chuckled. "And slowing the game, but once you're patient everything else is gonna come," said Lester.

"I was just telling everybody to keep their head up. You know the offense is gonna come. You got good players. You got Willie [Clayton] posting up, you got Mike [Thorne Jr.] posting up. We are going to score, [we] just take our time and we'll just get open shots," Lester explained.

When asked about his rebound total, Lester replied humorously, "Seeing Willie [Clayton] get all the rebounds, I just wanted to see how it felt."

The Owls would go on a 10-3 run within the first six minutes of the game as Charlotte struggled from the perimeter going 0-for-6 shooting in the first 12 minutes.

But, the first half displayed the making of a true dogfight as neither team was able gain separation with the half ending at 27-26 with Charlotte barely holding the lead after a big time alley-oop from Pierria Henry to Terrence Williams.

With Charlotte up, they managed to penetrate through the Owls' interior scoring 18 points in the paint in the first half compared to the Owls' eight, but it wasn't over.

Pablo Bertone put on a clinic in the first half with 11 points and five rebounds using his dribble penetration hitting one of his trademark fade away jumpers over Charlotte forward Terrence Williams.

"Unfortunately, I have to play him more than he should play. What they did was they went after him," said FAU Coach Mike Jarvis.

The 49ers would eventually push forward using the "Pick-N-Roll" offense to move the ball early, serving multiple layups under the basket to Charlotte's big man, Willie Clayton.

When asked about his matchup against FAU's Justin Ruffington, Clayton commented, "He's a very skilled post guy and I knew that coming in and I give him his respect for his game. He's a good player, just two great players going at it tonight."

Ruffington remains third in the Conference-USA in rebounds averaging 9.2 and finished with nine points and seven rebounds, but it appeared that Clayton won the battle as he finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.

The Charlotte 49ers managed to capitalize using their size to record 17 second chance points versus Florida Atlantic's six in the game, as well as scoring 28 points off the bench.

Towards the end of the second half, Florida Atlantic began to crumble as Bertone went 0-for-6 from the free throw line in the final minutes of play, ultimately forcing them to foul.

The 49ers would shoot 88 percent from the free throw line in the final half. Bertone would finish the game with 20 points and seven rebounds.

Charlotte would put the finishing touches on the Owls going on a 17-9 run with ten minutes left in the game.

"Even though right now we are a little bit undermanned, undersized our kids fight and continue to fight and as long they do that, as a coach, I still love them," said Coach Mike Jarvis.

The 49ers victory now puts them one and a half games back in the Conference, winning three of their last of five games. They will go on to face Florida International (11-10) at home, this Saturday, Feb. 1.

Charlotte NEWS


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