The Charlotte 49ers were shorthanded in their regular season opener but used a second half surge to defeat Charleston Southern 68-58 Friday night at Halton Arena.
Starters Chris Braswell and DeMario Mayfield were suspended due to team violations and J.T. Thompson was out with an ankle injury.
"We had to throw some of the young guys into the deep end and let them flail around a little bit," Coach Major said. He stressed the importance of "digging out a hard win" against a tough CSU team that finished 19-12 last season, just missing a NCAA tournament appearance.
A slow opening for the 49ers caused them to go down 5-0 early only to get onto the scoreboard with a Clayton jumper after three missed shots.
Another 8 point run by CSU at the 14 minute mark left Charlotte down 15-6 but after shots made by sophomore E. Victor Nickerson ( 11pts, 6 reb) and redshirt freshman Mike Thorne (4pts, 2 reb), the 49ers transition attack picked up leading to a 14 point run to put the home side up 20-15 with 7:53 left.
A Pierria Henry led defense forced CSU to shoot 23.5 percent (8-34) from the field with help off the boards from Darion Clark who had a game-leading 8 rebounds at half.
For Terrence Williams it was a tale of two halves. 17 of his 19 points came in the second after he shot 1-4 in the first half and 7-13 in the second to account for the majority of the 49ers points.
Even with Braswell missing, an undersized CSU was led by the 5'8" guard, Saah Nimley with a game-high 20 points (7-20 FG).
The guard-ran CSU defense opened with a man to man defense but was forced to switch to 3-2 zone after big man Mathiang Muo (6 pts, 11 reb) and guard Arlon Harper (12 pts, 4 reb) fell into foul trouble early in the second half.
CSU head coach, Barclay Radebaugh spoke in his press conference about the twenty 3 pointers his team attempted, 14 of those being uncontested and stressed the importance of the Buc's offensive tactics of high ball screens and guard play.
Overall the shorthanded 49ers still proved to be too much for the visiting Bucs of CSU dominating points in the paint (36 to 18) and second chance points (25 to 10) as they ended the game on an 11 point run to close out CSU.
Clark, Henry, and Williams all played over 32 minutes tonight as Charlotte was forced to rely on their youth to pull out another victory.
Mayfield will be sidelined again as Charlotte faces Georgia Southern on Tuesday, November 13th in a nationally-televised game that will begin at 9:00 pm in Halton Arena.