In a battle of unbeatens, the Charlotte 49ers ran away with a 76-64 win against the East Carolina Pirates. The 49ers' physical dominance proved too steep a challenge for the Pirates.
The Pirates (5-1) were resiliant against the high-tempo 49ers (7-0.) At the 11 minute mark of the first half, the Pirates trailed 19-8, and was forced to call a timeout to re-gather composure in a roaring Halton Arena.
49ers Head Coach Alan Major said postgame, "It's hard to keep a really good team down, they made some runs at us, but fortunately we were able to get a little separation in the second half… The crowd was tremendous; my hairs are still standing up under this long sleeve dress shirt."
The 49ers never gave the lead away after pushing ahead to as much as 18 points. The Pirates never quit playing hard; they displayed a much more organized style of play at points, but could not surmount their early deficit.
The 49ers certainly rattled the Pirates in the first half as both teams had spells of sloppy play, but the 49ers seemed to counter their mistakes more often.
Offensively, the 49ers had everything working. From the start they had more off-the-ball movement, and their backcourt had no trouble slashing to the rim. The 49ers out-rebounded the Pirates 45-21, with 14 of the 49ers 45 boards being offensive. The 49ers had 11 points off Pirates turnovers, and 14 points from second chance opportunities.
While the veteran-rich Pirates fought the lead down as best they could, the 49ers were clicking. Chris Braswell led the team with 18 points, and had a good mix of post-play with fast break layups. "If we can get paint shot then that's the best thing, not taking a lot of jumpers," Braswell commented about the team's philosophy.
The chemistry in the backcourt seemed to be one of the overwhelming differences that leaned 49ers' way. Pierria Henry "quarterbacked," as Major called his role in the game. DeMario Mayfield (12 points) and Terrence Williams (11 points) were the bulk of the scoring for the Niner guards.
The little things that 49ers did better seemed to be the difference. As mentioned before, rebounds were a key factor; the points in the paint, 46-24, also leaned the 49ers way. Willie Clayton, one of the three starting freshman for Charlotte, ended up being the second leading scorer with 14 points. His 13 rebounds dwarfed the next leading rebounder on the team by six.
With the 49ers having a great start to the season, Coach Major is preaching humility to the team. With all of the new talent they have accrued, their biggest challenge may prove to be their inexperience. Coach Major stressed to his team after the game, "Every small role in a game matters just as much as every big role in a game matters."
The 49ers will travel to play Davidson in teh battle for the Hornets Nest Trophy in a hostile environment, Wednesday Dec. 5, at 8 pm.