With the taste of last year’s bitter one point defeat still in the mouth of returning Niners, players and fans alike, the Charlotte 49ers left Minges Coliseum with a 76-64 win tonight, to extend their road and overall winning streak to two games. Junior Deuce Briscoe came of the bench and told ECU, “You do not get to win, WE get to win”, while scoring 19 points off the bench, all in the second half.
The first half started off back and forth, turnovers and jawing by both teams set the tone early, and also had the referees stopping play and setting the tone with their whistles. Some nice backdoor cuts and good looks against ECU’s man to man would give Charlotte an early advantage. Using Braswell in the post forced Lebo Almighty’s hand to double team, leading to a DeMario Mayfield dunk where he yammed all over some poor pirate. Someone may want to check him for scurvy. Other deft passes led to a dunk by Chris Braswell (you read that right) giving Charlotte a 9-3 lead early. Charlotte’s former defensive matador extraordinaire, Shamarr Bowden, learned some driving techniques while in junior college, getting a layup to slow Charlotte’s momentum and cut their lead to four.
One thing that does not need to happen for this squad is anything negative for Chris Braswell, but with 14:23 remaining in the half he would pick up his second foul and head to the bench, being replaced by K.J. Sherrill. Some nice outside shooting by the Niners, punctuated by a DeMario Mayfield step back gave Charlotte a 17-7 lead. However, in the absence of Braswell, ECU would pull off a 13-0 run to take a 20-17 lead, their first since 3-2 early on in the half. Barnett and Mayfield would answer to reclaim the lead 21-20 and Charlotte would extend that to 26-22 before ECU closed the half on a small run, getting it within one to end the first half 26-25 in favor of Charlotte.
A slow start to the second half by both teams led to a number of turnovers and bad shots. Charlotte would get their feet under themselves, pushing their lead to 31-27 on a fast break dunk by E. Victor Nickerson, that led to a resounding “E-Vic Nic” chant by the traveling Niners contingent. Derrio Green and Pierria Henry would add a three pointer a piece to build a ten point lead for the Niners leading Lebo Almighty to call a timeout right before the under 16 minute timeout. The Niners and Pirates would trade baskets before E-Vic got lose for another dunk attempt but was fouled, missing the dunk. He would make one of two to give Charlotte an eight point cushion 44-36. The next exchange would end in a double foul on Corvonn Gaines of ECU and K.J. Sherrill. Sherrill would be called for the block, Gaines for the charge (I know it makes no sense). The ball would go to ECU based off the possession arrow, but they would not capitalize. Sherrill would follow that play up with a correctly called charge, much to the displeasure of the ECU crowd.
Charlotte would slowly increase their lead and build it to 56-44 after a Briscoe layup. The Niners would get a 9-0 run to increase their lead to 63-44, behind Deuce’s offensive explosion of drives and three pointers. Yet ECU was not done yet and that’s when the youth and inexperience began to show for Charlotte. ECU’s offense would wake up and they would start chipping away at Charlotte’s cushion led by Shamarr Bowden’s multiple three pointers. ECU’s full court pressure and the noise level in Minges (which was surprisingly loud) would create multiple Charlotte turnovers leading to a 17-4 Pirate run that would make it 67-61 Charlotte, but five is as close as ECU would get. Charlotte would decide to start making their free throws putting away the Pirates to close the game on a 9-3 run and win 76-64.
Keys to the Win:
- Defense. While many might have been cursing at their screen while ECU made their run, ECU’s Darrius Morrow was held to zero points on 0-8 shooting with no trips to the free throw line. Meanwhile, Chris Braswell finished with 13 points on 4-9 shooting from the field and 5-7 from the free throw line.
- Jamar “Deuce” Briscoe. Deuce lit up ECU for all 19 of his points in the second half while only playing 18 minutes. Post game, Major even commented on his play, stating that Deuce is wired to score, held his composure after early foul trouble and that scoring is what he can do.
- Reserves. E. Victor Nickerson had some nice steals, but this is mainly to give some love to K.J. Sherrill. Sure Braswell did a fine job guarding Morrow, but in both halves he found himself in foul trouble and Sherrill answered the call for the Niners. Post game, I asked Major, “With Braswell in foul trouble in both halves, how important was K.J. for you?” Major answered with, “ Terrific, I’m proud of him, he battled. He only had four points, but he scrapped on both ends. His charge call was huge.”