CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It wasn’t pretty. In fact, Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez remarked to the media after the game that his team was “like an engine leaking oil” as the final seconds dripped away from the clock, with every tick having to feel like a minute.
Somehow, Sanchez and his young team pulled into the garage before disaster struck.
Charlotte guard and reigning Conference USA Freshman of the Week Jahmir Young scored a career-high 24, and the 49ers somehow managed to escape with a 67-65, overtime victory before an announced crowd of 4,819 at Halton Arena.
“It’s (the win) big for us, but not because it is an ACC team,” said Sanchez. “We don’t look at what conference they (Charlotte’s opponents) come from, and then turn it on. For us to have an ACC team in our building is huge, to come up with a win, yes, it means a lot, but it’s more the respect of the coaching, the talent, and the culture.”
“It’s a big win, but we’ve got to get back to practice the next day,” added Young. “(We need to) treat every one the same.”
Wake Forest (2-2) battled through a 1-for-12 drought early, while Charlotte took advantage with a 12-0 run that forced Demon Deacon coach Danny Manning to request a stoppage midway through the burst. The Deacs bounced back with a 4-for-5 stretch as the half elapsed that enabled the visitors to slice the 49er lead to a precarious point. Following another hot Wake stretch, a Chaundee Brown triple again secured the advantage for the Deacs at 26-24. Charlotte battled back as the period closed, drawing the teams level at 29 at the interval.
Young posted arguably the best half of his brief career in the opening 20, tallying 15 points on 6-for-6 from the floor (3-for-3 from distance). The performance put Young within a point of his career high, which he collected in the season-opener at James Madison. It took Young fewer than five second-half minutes to eclipse the mark, though, as he knocked down 3-of-4 free throws early in the period.
Despite Young’s success, little else went right for the 49ers in a prolonged dry spell. Charlotte (2-1) missed seven shots in a row over a four-plus minute scoring drought, which it snapped by working its way to the free throw line. Young proved to be the savior from the field goal drought as well, however, as his triple from the left side gave Charlotte its first basket in nearly 10 minutes and put the 49ers back in front, 46-43, at the 8:19 mark.
The sides traded punches throughout the half, with dueling 6-0 runs giving Charlotte a 54-48 advantage and drawing Wake level at 54 shortly after. Malik Martin stuck a triple from the right perimeter with :21 to play, putting Charlotte ahead by three. Ishmael Massoud then drained a trey five seconds later to again draw the sides even. The 49ers had one final shot in regulation, but Young’s first errant attempt of the game would not fall, and the teams headed to extra time.
Charlotte claimed a six-point advantage in the first minute-and-a-half of the extra period, again at the free throw line. Chaundee Brown then halved the advantage with a corner triple, and after a trade of baskets, Jordan Shepherd converted on a layup that gave Charlotte a five-point lead. Brandon Childress then hit a three that reduced the lead to a single bucket.
Childress could not make lightning strike twice, though, as his quick three following a Charlotte miss banked off the front of the rim. The 49ers raced down the floor, and though their final attempt hit the front of the iron, the horn sounded as Wake secured the rebound, bringing to a close a frantic sequence in which Wake Forest inexplicably decided not to foul with enough time remaining to make a shot.
“We should have taken a foul. That’s what we were screaming at (the players). That’s what we talked about. We weren’t able to execute that,” said Manning.
When asked whether he could add insight into the thought process behind Chaundee Brown not fouling, Manning replied, “No, we just didn’t execute what we needed to down the stretch, in that situation.”
Young led all scorers with 24, hitting 8-of-12 field goal attempts (4-of-5 from three) and dropping 4-of-6 free throw tries.
“(By) trusting what we do in practice and working hard every day,” remarked Young when asked how he was able to perform so well as a freshman. “Coach demands a top effort every time we step on the floor. It starts in practice, so coming out in a game, we just treat it the same as practice.”
Jordan Shepherd and Martin joined Young in double figures. Shepherd scored 16 on 7-for-17 shooting, while Martin tallied 12, including 7-for-8 from the line.
Childress paced Wake with 19, hitting 8-of-17 from the field. Brown added 12, with Charlotte transfer Andrien White scoring 10 in his return to Halton Arena.
Both teams are off until later in the week. Charlotte travels to the Holmes Center in Boone, North Carolina, to face Appalachian State Thursday night in a 7:00 tipoff. Wake Forest returns to Charlotte to battle Davidson at the Spectrum Center. That game is slated to begin at 7:30, and will be streamed over ESPN+.