GAME NOTES: The Charlotte 49ers will try to salvage their season as they visit Minges Coliseum for a Conference USA tilt against the East Carolina Pirates.
The 49ers suffered their fifth setback in a row on Saturday, as they were downed, 64-62, at home by UAB. Coach Alan Major's squad is now 14-12 overall, including a 5-8 mark in C-USA action. Charlotte has also lost its last five road games and owns a 2-7 record in true away games.
ECU will be looking to continue its successful homestand, which began with back-to-back wins over Louisiana Tech (75-68) and Rice (67-55). The recent surge has improved coach Jeff Lebo's Pirates to a 15-13 standing, but they are still near the bottom of the C-USA with a 4-9 league record. This will be the final home game of the 2013-14 season for ECU, which will be migrating to the American Athletic Conference next season.
Charlotte holds a 15-6 lead in the all-time series and has won four of the last five meetings. The 49ers won eight of nine C-USA games between the two from 2002-05.
The 49ers stayed neck and neck with the Blazers throughout the contest. Pierria Henry knocked down a 3-point field goal attempt to tie the score at 62 with only 41 seconds left to play, but UAB scored on an offensive rebound tip- in to steal the win. Charlotte converted only 8-of-15 shots at the free-throw line and was held to 29.4 percent efficiency from the floor over the final 20 minutes by the Blazers.
Terrence Williams and Shawn Lester made strong contributions for Charlotte with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Henry, who scored a team-high 16 points, is the only player in the conference that averages double-figures points (12.0 ppg) and at least five rebounds (5.1 rpg) and five assists (6.0) per game. Lester is netting a team-high 12.8 ppg while shooting 44.2 percent from the field. Willie Clayton is pacing the 49ers and ranks fourth in the C-USA with 8.8 rpg.
ECU is one of the league's most dangerous teams because of its ability to stretch the floor with the outside shot. The Pirates are pacing the C-USA in both made 3- point field goal attempts per game (8.4) and 3-point field goal percentage (.364). After going 5-of-10 from beyond the arc for a game-high 23 points versus Rice, senior guard Akeem Richmond is now just four 3-pointers shy of becoming the 16th player in NCAA Division I history with 390 career makes from 3-point range. Michael Zangari tied his career-best with 17 points in the win.
Richmond is posting 18.1 ppg and ranks second nationally with 125 made 3- pointers. The Pirates have a pair of reliable scorers in Paris Roberts- Campbell (12.5 ppg, 1.8 spg) and freshman forward Caleb White (12.4 ppg), who has played all 80 minutes of the current homestand. White has tallied 17 points or more in five of his last eight games.
The 49ers' lack of depth has hurt them down the stretch. They are still going to be a dangerous opponent when the C-USA Tournament rolls around. ECU lives and dies by the 3-point shot, which makes it very unpredictable. Although it will be Senior Night in Greenville, the Pirates will have trouble fending off Charlotte.
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