CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Jon Davis would be proud.
The former Charlotte star point guard from Maryland now has another star Charlotte point guard from Maryland doing things that he made famous during his time as a 49er.
That point guard, Jahmir Young, put on a performance for the ages Thursday night. Young scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half, almost singlehandedly willing Charlotte to a 70-68 victory over Florida Atlantic before an announced crowd of 3,752 at Halton Arena.
“(I’m) really thankful for that ‘W’,” Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez said. “I know we’ve had a tough stretch of road trips, and so on, but their no-quit mentality really showed today.”
Considering the path of the first 33 minutes of the game, Charlotte appeared poised to have that tough stretch continue.
FAU (12-8, 4-3 C-USA) scorched the nets to start, jumping out to a 10-2 lead on the homestanding 49ers. The Owls connected on seven of their first eight and 10 of their first 15 shots, building a lead that reached as high as 15 at 24-9. Charlotte (11-7, 5-2) stormed back on the strength of its defense, however, limiting FAU to just three makes on its final ten tries of the half. The defensive effort allowed the Niners to close strong, as they narrowed the margin to just 34-30 at the interval.
As impressive as that comeback was, few realized – aside from perhaps those in Charlotte’s huddle — that an even more impressive run awaited the 49ers.
FAU opened the second stanza on a 11-3 burst that staggered the home side and left just a slight murmur in the Halton Arena seats. Charlotte struggled to counterpunch – Sanchez called his team “stuck” – and was able to draw within single digits just once over a nearly nine-minute stretch.
Somehow, Charlotte rose from the ashes.
The 49ers, little by little, chipped away at the Owls’ 14-point advantage. It gradually withered away to 11, then nine, then six, then three, and then a single, agonizing point, as Charlotte capped a 13-0 run. The seeds for the burst started a few seconds prior, though, as Sanchez addressed his team during a media timeout in which it found itself trailing, 56-44.
“We were down 12, and we said in the huddle that there’s no 12-point shot. There isn’t,” Sanchez recalled. “Don’t come and take a bad shot. Make sure you trust the offense. Do what we’ve been coached to do in those moments. You have to get a stop and a score. That’s the only way this changes.
“The stops weren’t perfect. Sometimes we had some breakdowns, but they were continuous.”
Young scored eight of the 13 points during the run, helping to bring the home crowd to its feet.
“(I was) definitely (letting) things come to me,” said Young of his performance during the run. “I just tried to make the right play, just get the best shot we can, and just get stops. When we get a run and we get stops, we want to build on that each possession, and just make sure to get the best shot possible.”
For a while, it appeared the comeback still might not be enough. FAU scored back-to-back buckets to extend its lead to 62-57. Four straight free throws from Young again knifed the lead to one, and a Drew Edwards triple tied the contest at 64 following two FAU free throws.
Jordan Shepherd then sliced through the paint and banked home a layup following an empty FAU possession, giving Charlotte its first lead of the game with 45 seconds to play. The 49ers then clung to that advantage, holding off a late FAU rally and a try to win that harmlessly banked away and capping the incredible reversal.
Young’s 24 led all scorers, as the freshman knocked down 6-of-12 tries from the field and 9-of-10 from the charity stripe. Shepherd joined Young in double figures, with arguably the game’s most significant basket accounting for two of his 13. Malik Martin joined the two with 12 points.
FAU also placed three scorers in double figures, led by Cornelius Taylor’s 16 points. Jailyn Ingram scored 14 and hauled in five boards, while Richardson Maitre finished with 13.
Both sides return to action Saturday. Charlotte hosts Florida International in a game slated for a 4:00 (Eastern) tip-off. FAU travels to Norfolk, Virginia, to take on Old Dominion. Tip time from the Constant Center is scheduled for 7:00.