The Charlotte 49ers improved to 9-0 on the season after a physical 78-66 win over the visiting Central Michigan Chippewas on Saturday at Halton Arena.
With Chris Braswell leading the team with 15.1 points a game, it's becoming evident that Alan Major's team is winning games on defense by forcing yet another team to shoot under 40 percent as the Chippewas shot 35.7 percent.
The 49ers faced one of the tighter zone defenses of the season forcing them to shoot 8 three-pointers in the first half but only netted one courtesy of Demario Mayfield (15 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast.)
Braswell's first points came after a put back with 9:49 left in the first half that launched a 8-0 run before ending on a Hibbits' three to make it 21-16 at the 6:38 mark.
The 49ers man-defense forced CMU to shoot 30 percent from the field (8-26) in the first half and 36 percent from outside the arc (4-11).
The 49ers physicality proved pivotal with a 22 to 8 advantage in paint scoring as well more than half of their points (17) coming from the bench all players except for Ivan Benkovic would make it onto the score sheet.
The first half would end on a 6-0 49rtd run to bring the score to 31-27.
Both teams shot better in the second half as freshman Denzel Ingram scored 9 of his 13 points from 3 second half 3 pointers. He'd end the game with 5 assists as well.
Chippewas senior Kyle Randall was slowed a bit this game. After coming off of two career performances against Niagara and Bradley he was limited to 15 points (4-17) and 3 assists with a game-high 8 turnovers.
The 5263 fans in attendance at Halton Arena would be brought to their feet with a Pierria Henry (4 pts, 2 reb, 4 ast) ejection at the 12:10 mark. What started as a scramble for a ball at midcourt ended with a scuffle of CMU players, staff, and referees. What ensued after the immediate ejection of Henry was a 10-minute discussion and review, which left the play as it stood.
Henry's ejection wasn't due to fighting as originally feared, which will keep him from getting suspended for one game.
CMU's Coach Keno Davis commented on the incident stating, "I feared the safety of not just our player but Charlotte's as well." when asked about his role in the altercation.
After the smoke settled from the Henry ejection the reigns were passed to guards, Ingram and Mayfield helped lead the 49ers to their ninth consecutive win.
Coach Major commented on the resurgence of his team after the ejection by stating, "They're trying to be what we've asked them to be, and that's a team."
The 49ers would close out the game with help from Willie Clayton who missed a double-double by just one rebound (10 pts, 9 reb, 1 ast) and J.T. Thompson who accounted for 12 rebounds and 8 points.
The 49ers were fueled by a passing offense that had 23 assists off of 30 baskets. They would end the game shooting just under fifty percent from the floor (49.2%) but holding CMU to just 35.7 percent. The 49ers connected outside the arc as they shot 50 percent percent with help from Ingram, Nickerson, and Mayfield who had three of his own.
The Chippewas were led by Olivier Mbaigoto (13pts, 5 reb, 1 ast), John Simons (13pts, 5 reb, 1 ast), and Randall (15 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast). Senior big man Zach Saylor didn't travel with the team due to a knee injury.
The 49ers face a tough road test as they visit Miami Friday, December 14.