Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Observations from UMass

AMHERST, Mass. -- The 49ers are continuing to learn lessons the hard way about how to win consistently in the Atlantic 10. After Wednesday's 85-75 defeat at Massachusetts -- coming on the heels of a 57-52 victory at Saint Joseph's -- Charlotte found out about how rough starts can hurt you.

"We didn't play well in the opening segments of each half," said coach Alan Major. "They scored 25 of their 85 points then, and that's always going to hurt you."

The Minutemen opened the game by taking a 21-6 lead. After taking a 44-33 lead at halftime, UMass scored the first seven points of the second half and stretched the lead to 20 before a furious 49ers comeback.

Next up for Charlotte (9-7, 2-1) is a visit Saturday from the league's top defensive team, the Saint Louis Billikens. And the way coach Rick Majerus' team plays defense, if Charlotte falls behind by 20 points in the second half (as it did against UMass), the 49ers might not get a chance to rally and take a lead late in the game (like they did against UMass).

"I was proud of our guys and how they didn't tuck in like a lot of people would, down 20 against a really good team at home," said Major.

Still, the 49ers have already won as many conference games as they did all last season. The lessons continue.

-- The 49ers, who entered the UMass game among the country's leaders in steals (9.4 per game), had 13 against UMass. Freshman guard Pierria Henry, who was averaging nearly three a game and was second in the Atlantic 10, had two more against the Minutemen.

-- Although Major credited his team's second-half rally against UMass to defense, the 49ers allowed the Minutemen to shoot 64 percent through the game's first 24 minutes.

-- Forward Javarris Barnett, who entered the game averaging 11.4 points, had just five against UMass. Normally an excellent 3-point shooter, Barnett was just one-of-five from beyond the arc.

-- Charlotte continues to take better care of the ball than it has in recent memory. The 49ers had 12 turnovers against UMass, have had more assists than turnovers in five of their last seven games.

-- Center Chris Braswell had the best game of his 49ers career against UMass. The 6-8 junior scored a career high 31 points, making nine of 15 shots (including three-of-five 3 pointers), 10 of 11 from the line and pulling down nine rebounds.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the coverage. I thought we were gong to steal one last night after an awful start.

PS- Are you a soothsayer? You listed us as 9-7. I hope we get to 10-6 before we get to 9-7.