Following what happened Wednesday night, the 49ers had the challenge of attempting to rebound against the Atlantic 10′s flagship program, Xavier. Javarris Barnett had a career night, but it wasn’t enough as Charlotte (10-10, 2-5) came up short to Xavier (14-7, 5-3) and lost, 74-70.
Barnett got the game started with a three-pointer from the top of the key, but Charlotte’s next four shots were all missed threes. Xavier did not get off to a great start and some attempts from inside the paint earlier might have made a difference later. After a few minutes of back-and-forth scoring, the Musketeers were able to put some distance between themselves and Charlotte. Xavier found themselves up 30-20 with 3:44 remaining in the first-half. Charlotte then went on a 13-7 run, aided by three-point field goals from Barnett, DeMario Mayfield and Derrio Green. Two free throws from Terrence Williams got Charlotte within four at the break, trailing Xavier 33-37.
Charlotte came out of the break aggressive, and chipped away at Xavier’s lead slowly but surely. Barnett’s third three-pointer got Charlotte within one, 47-46, with 14:17 left in the contest. Minutes later he would tie the score on his fifth three-pointer, the score knotted at 52 all. Xavier answered as we all expected a team like Xavier to do. A three-pointer from Brad Redford broke the tie and began a 19-10 run by the Musketeers that would put Xavier on top 71-62 with 2:34 remaining.
With Xavier having just scored seven straight, the 49ers found the strength to make one last run, just like against Saint Louis two weeks earlier. Having gotten within three points on a Chris Braswell jumper, Xavier was able to burn 33 seconds off the clock before Tu Holloway bricked an attempted dagger. DeMario Mayfield was sent to the line with 12.8 seconds and after having made the first, the second rolled out of bounds, and in possession of Xavier. Holloway then got himself two daggers in the form of free throws getting the score to its final margin.
Beating Xavier is and always will be a a tough task, but after the disaster that happened against Temple the performance of the Niners was respectable. Had Pierria Henry been healthy he could have very well been the difference in the outcome. Henry not only brings his own defensive spark to the court, but the team reflects his intensity on defense. With him in the game, Redford doesn’t find himself wide open as easily as he did.
Barnett scored 27 points on 9-15 shooting, including a near perfect 7-8 from behind the arc. Without Barnett, the rest of the team shot 31%, we can’t expect Barnett to catch fire like that every night. The guys on the court have to figure out how to make their shots. DeMario Mayfield got another double-double, 13 points and 10 rebounds. He made six of his eight free throw attempts and his improvement in this aspect of the game is appreciated. Braswell scored 12 points on 4/7 shooting, but the Niners will continue to lose games if he is only getting seven shots a game.