Charlotte men's basketball secured their second straight win following back-to-back 31-point performances from junior Brice Williams as he propelled the 49ers to a 68-66 win over the Louisiana Tech University (LA Tech) Bulldogs in Halton Arena on New Year's Eve.
With the victory, Charlotte improves to 11-3 on the season and 2-1 in Conference USA (C-USA) play, while LA Tech falls to 8-6 on the year and 1-2 in the C-USA. The 49ers stay a perfect 7-0 when playing in front of the home crowd at Halton Arena.
"We won today by two. That's because of the crowd. Our crowd is that important; our fans are that important; the energy in the building is that important. Having been through a COVID season, I appreciate everybody that comes, and I mean every single body that comes into this building and decides to project some energy to help us win a basketball game," said Head Coach Ron Sanchez.
The first half was led by a solid defensive performance and a smart offensive approach, while Charlotte took a 40-32 lead at halftime.
The game started back and forth, with neither team gaining much separation until the 49ers went to the bench bringing in Williams off a career-high 31-point performance in the previous game. Williams hit his first shot to go up 15-14 and helped grow that lead to 40-32, putting up 19 points in the half.
The 49ers shot 17-26 (65%) in the first half while holding LA Tech to 12-29 (41%), helping secure the first-half lead.
The second half started like the first, going back and forth, with Charlotte maintaining their lead. Around the 11-minute mark, the 49ers' offense had gone into a lull, letting the Bulldogs get back into it. An Isaiah Crawford hook shot tied the game at 57 with 6:23 to play.
Cobe Williams scored a fastbreak layup for LA Tech to give them the lead 59-57 with six minutes remaining, their first lead since the 8:30 mark of the first half.
Charlotte's Williams answered, scoring six of the team's last 10 points to pull out a 68-66 victory over the C-USA opponent.
Williams shining following finals
The 49ers have played in four games since finals ended on Dec. 16, and Williams has used the break away from school work to his advantage, scoring 86 points on 26-35 shooting in those games.
Over the last two games, Williams has averaged 31 points on 76% shooting and five rebounds. His back-to-back stellar home performances won him C-USA Player of the Week and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.
Against the Bulldogs, Williams scored 31 points on 9-12 shooting while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out one assist.
Williams' back-to-back 31-point games were the first time a 49er has scored 30+ points in consecutive games since Leemire Goldwire in the 2007-2008 season. He also is the first 49er in history to be named USBWA National Player of the Week.
"That's really cool that I will go down in the record books, but it's not about personal records. It's about the wins and team success," said Williams.
Charlotte heads to Florida to take on the Florida International University Panthers on Thursday, Jan. 5. The contest is set to tipoff at 7 p.m. and will be available to stream on ESPN+.