CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Almost.
Fewer than 48 hours after an 18-point loss to Western Kentucky at home, Charlotte took the floor against Marshall, facing the same challenges it faced Thursday night. Marshall, conversely, came to Charlotte on the strength of a last-second, 70-67, victory at Old Dominion Thursday.
The Thundering Herd almost found itself on the other end of that buzzer-beating treatment Saturday.
Despite 37 points from Jon Davis, and a career-high 23 from Milos Supica, two final Charlotte looks in the final three seconds fell short, allowing Marshall to escape with an 85-84 result in front of an announced crowd of 4,014 in Halton Arena.
“I’m very pleased with the naked-eye observation of what we saw, as far as our effort, and for the most part, executing our game plan,” said Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez. “For the second game in three days with an eight-man rotation, I couldn’t ask our team to do more.”
Charlotte (3-10, 0-2 C-USA) appeared in peril of succumbing to a large run by the visitor early on, as it did Thursday. Marshall (9-6, 2-0) turned loose a 13-3 burst out of a tied game at 10, putting the Niners on the ropes. The Thundering Herd held a double-digit lead for much of the opening stanza, before a late Charlotte charge. The 49ers knifed an 8-point advantage for Marshall down to a single point, before the Herd bounced back to take a 46-42 advantage to the interval.
The tense margin for Marshall continued into the second half, with the sides struggling to wrest control for the first ten minutes of the period. Marshall looked to pull away for a bit, stretching its lead to eight at the 10:37 mark on the strength of a 5-0 burst. As quickly as Marshall punched, Charlotte countered, going on a 7-0 run of its own over the next one-and-a-half minutes to again slice the Herd lead to one.
The battle continued into the final minute, with Davis converting a three-point play to give Charlotte an 84-83 lead with 47 seconds to play, before C.J. Burks put home a contested layup with a half-minute to go, returning the lead to Marshall. After a stoppage, the mood in the arena grew tense, as everyone prepared for what was to come.
Davis was sure to take the final shot.
After a prolonged possession, Davis broke down a Marshall defender, but his three-point try from the left wing would not fall. Charlotte rebounded the loose ball and called timeout, but its second attempt – also from Davis – was deflected as the final horn sounded.
Despite the result, the signs of growth were again evident for Charlotte. When asked after the game about the change, Sanchez joked, “I thought that’s what I was hired to do,” then addressed the difference in his team between Thursday’s game and Saturday’s.
“To be honest, we as a staff spoke, and we were very honest with our team. We told them that we did not feel that the effort was required was there on Thursday,” said Sanchez. “They decided to become a team that plays hard. It has to be something that’s player-driven, not coach-driven. We had a conversation as a team, and they decided to really lay it on the line, from the beginning to the end.”
Following Thursday’s 35.4 percent shooting effort, the Niners connected on 54.5 percent (24-for-44) of their tries Saturday. Davis’ 37 finished one shy of his career high, while Supica’s 23 were a high mark.
“I’m very happy with the way that Milos played today,” sand Sanchez. “He’s been challenged to score more, and that’s a sign of an individual growing as the team grows.”
“I think we gave a really good effort, and we executed well most of the time,” said Supica. “That was a really good shooting team, and I think we did a really good job on defense.”
Marshall shot 45.2 percent (28-for-62) for the contest, connecting on just 10 of 29 tries from beyond the arc. The Herd placed four scorers in double figures, paced by Burks’ 25. Jon Elmore scored 16, with Taevion Kinsey adding 14. Jannson Williams contributed 13 for Marshall.
Turnovers, however, told the story of the contest. Marshall forced 17 Charlotte turnovers, cashing in those miscues for 21 points. The Herd only coughed up the ball four times, leading to three 49er points.
Charlotte now hits the road to south Florida, taking on FIU Thursday night. Marshall is off until next Saturday, when it will host Western Kentucky.
MARSHALL 85, CHARLOTTE 84
MARSHALL (9-6, 2-0 C-USA): Williams 5-11 2-3 13, Kinsey 4-8 6-7 14, West 1-3 00 3, Burks 9-16 1-2 25, Elmore 5-12 5-6 16, George 1-4 3-4 5, Watson 1-5 2-2 5, Beyers 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 28-62 19-24 85.
CHARLOTTE (3-10, 0-2 C-USA): Supica 7-8 9-11 23, Mangum 1-1 0-0 3, McGill 1-2 0-0 2, Davis 9-20 14-16 37, Younger 3-4 3-3 10, Blight 1-3 1-2 4, Kitoko 2-6 0-0 5.
Halftime — Marshall 46-42. 3-Point Goals—Marshall 10-29 (Williams 1-5, Kinsey 0-1, West 1-3, Burks 6-9, Elmore 1-5, George 0-2, Watson 1-3, Beyers 0-1), Charlotte 9-18 (Mangum 1-1, Davis 5-12, Younger 1-1, Blight 1-1, Kitoko 1-3). Fouled Out — McGill (CHA). Rebounds —Charlotte 33 (Blight 10), Marshall 26 (Williams 6)). Assists — Marshall 15 (Elmore 5), Charlotte 14 (Davis 7) Total Fouls — Marshall 25, Charlotte 17. Technical — NA. A — 4014.
Points in the Paint —Marshall 32, Charlotte 30. Points off Turnovers —Marshall 21, Charlotte 3. Second-Chance Points — Marshall 7, Charlotte 6. Fast Break Points —Marshall 15, Charlotte 6. Bench Points–-Marshall 14, Charlotte 9.