CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Chris Braswell had the chance to reach a major milestone Wednesday night. But as Charlotte's 7:30 p.m. tip with George Washington drew closer, breaking the 1,000 point barrier was the last thing on the junior forward's mind.
"I just wanted to stay ahead and get a big team win today," Braswell said. "It wasn't about me today."
But the opening minutes were about Braswell, as the 6-9 Maryland native scored Charlotte's first nine points en route to a 72-62 win over the Colonials.
Braswell needed just eight points to become the 24th player in school history to score 1,000. It didn't take him long, either, as a driving layup just 2 minutes, 57 seconds in did the trick.
"I just came out very aggressive, my mind was right, my game was right today," Braswell said. "I just came out trying to attack and give us the lead and stay up there."
Braswell's early points gave the 49ers a lead they wouldn't relinquish in the first half. Losers of two straight coming in, Charlotte got an early scoring boost from Braswell, Javarris Barnett and DeMario Mayfield, who combined to score 32 of the 49ers' 38 first-half points. The Colonials' only first-half lead came at 5-2 off a Nemanja Mikic 3-pointer, as Charlotte slowly edged ahead and led 38-33 at the break.
The Niner lead would have been substantially larger had they not been outrebounded 19-13 (11-6 offensively). Off those 11 offensive boards, George Washington converted 10 points.
Plagued by slow second half starts all year, Wednesday garnered the same result for Charlotte, as George Washington scored six straight points to open the half and their first lead since the opening minute, 39-38.
After George Washington took a 42-41 lead on a Bryan Bynes layup at the 15:46 mark, Charlotte got a boost from an unlikely source. Derrio Green, who hadn't scored since the Niners' loss to Xavier on Jan. 28, came in off the bench for two 3-pointers as part of a 17-3 49er run that stretched the lead to 59-45 with 8:41 left.
The Niners also got seven timely bench points during that span from freshman guard Terrence Williams, who along with Green, worked to spell guards Deuce Briscoe and Pierria Henry, who was out with three fouls.
"They came out and punched us a little bit to start the half," Major said. "Terrence made a big three and Derrio made a couple buckets. I thought the bench guys kind of settled us down a little bit. Very happy with everybody that jumped out there and contributed."
"He responded like you would hope a senior would," Major said of Green. "To his credit, he did that. Very happy for him."
George Washington cut the 49er lead down to seven, 62-55, with just over three minutes left, but a Barnett 3-pointer from the corner just seconds later expanded the Charlotte lead and helped Alan Major to his first career win over the Colonials.
Braswell and Barnett led the way for Charlotte, scoring 19 and 18, respectively. In his second game back from suspension, Mayfield scored 15 points, grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and dished out five assists.
Guard Tony Taylor led George Washington with 14 points while Dave Pellom recorded a double-double (12 pts, 11 rebs). George Washington dominated the boards, 41-29, but were plagued by 17 turnovers.
"Coming off a season-low six turnovers against St. Joe's, I wish I knew (what went wrong)," Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said. "We threw the ball out of bounds. Some of them credit Charlotte for playing good defense, but they weren't really pressing and we threw the ball out of bounds."
The win moved Charlotte to 5-8 in A-10 play, 13-13 overall, and dropped George Washington to 4-9 in league play, 9-18 overall.
"I want to continue to raise our level of performance," Major said. "We have to continue to execute on the offensive and defensive end. There are a lot of scenarios out there, but the most important scenario is ours, because that's the one we can control."
"That's our goal this season, to go to Atlantic City," Braswell said. "We're very excited to be there. It's all about building, we got a couple young guys and we're just trying to show them the ropes. Just getting into a rhythm and staying positive, that's all we need."
Charlotte faces St. Bonaventure on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Halton Arena.
Note: Charlotte lost junior forward K.J. Sherrill to a broken right forearm on a hard foul in the first half. Team Doctor Robert Jones said Sherrill is likely done for the season.