A slow start turned into a victory as Charlotte men’s basketball seized its home contest against the Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Hawks 80-47 on Monday, Nov. 14. The 49ers are 2-0 so far in the dawning 2022 season.
All around, the Green and White fought heartily.
Head coach Ron Sanchez said the team brought their best.
“I think we started well; I think we followed the game plan well. I think we played very unselfishly.”
The Hawks soared to an early lead, but the headwinds were soon against them. Three points in front were the most they could muster; all the while, the pair of sophomore Igor Milicic Jr. and junior Jackson Threadgill whittled down the advantage.
Graduate student Montre’ Gipson hauled in a three-pointer to bring the 49ers into the lead, the first of three such shots made in a row by Charlotte. From then on, UMES would not retake the lead.
a Tre' Trey 😁Oh, Aly also has four assists already.CLT 9UMES 7 pic.twitter.com/Wzo13qJQ33— Charlotte Men’s Basketball (@CharlotteMBB) November 15, 2022
Milicic made a standout performance during the first. The Croatian scored 13 points, more than any other in the Charlotte lineup, with redshirt junior Brice Williams and Threadgill adding eight and seven, respectively.
13-0 run.Igor scored again whilst posting.CLT 17UMES 7 pic.twitter.com/YWoQAbBUG7— Charlotte Men’s Basketball (@CharlotteMBB) November 15, 2022
Additionally, redshirt sophomore Aly Khalifa performed strongly on both sides of the ball, assisting on five baskets consecutively to start the game and recording six defensive rebounds.
Charlotte’s defense controlled its territory well, fending off UMES incursions and blunting their attacks long before nearing the basket.
As a result, the Hawks found few opportunities to score, bringing the game to 41-18 in Charlotte’s favor heading into halftime.
The 49ers’ lead hardened in the second half, with UMES failing to make inroads against the leading Green and White.
Gipson brought the first points of the second to Charlotte, completing a jumper and following it up with a successful free throw.
The Hawks made every effort to close the gap, but steadily their ground grew untenable; starting with a 23-point deficit, UMES ended up 33 points behind when the game came to a close.
While not as effective in the second, the defense held the line to keep the Hawks at 29 points scored.
The Charlotte offense kept up the pressure against UMES, adding 39 points in the second half.
With 1:38 left to go, sophomore Isaiah Folkes beat out the shot clock to rack up three points that would be the last of the game.
couldn't have drawn it up any better tbh pic.twitter.com/MIUFxEOgvU— Charlotte Men’s Basketball (@CharlotteMBB) November 15, 2022
The showing against UMES continues Charlotte’s promising start to the season, although the true strength of the 49ers may yet be unseen.
In the two games played so far against Coppin State and UMES, both teams performed worse than Charlotte last season, the former earning a .281 win percentage.
“Winning is important [to] build confidence in your players, and every game is important,” said Sanchez. “For us to have been able to protect home court right now and be 2-0 is really important.”
Charlotte’s new additions are an encouraging sign for the future, with players like Milicic and Gipson having memorable performances.
Both players scored over ten points in the game – Milicic more than all others but Threadgill.
The versatile and effective defense shown by the 49ers, if replicated in later contests as against UMES, would be a crucial component to victory in matches to come.
Charlotte heads down to Conway, S.C., for the Myrtle Beach Invitational, which runs from Nov. 17-20. The first game against Boise State begins at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17, with viewers able to watch on ESPNews.