Charlotte-WCU

Charlotte's Jahmir Young drives to the basket in the team's win over WCU. 

Knowing it was the final non-conference game, the 49ers wanted to show what they were capable of. They routed Western Carolina 98-82 in a convincing performance that answered a lot of questions about the lack of offense many have been accustomed to seeing as of late.

It was another back-and-forth game in which both teams had their fair share of scoring runs in the first half. Led by Conference USA player of the week, Jahmir Young, the 49ers were able to go into halftime with a slim lead 45-43. 

Coming out of the break, it appeared as if whatever head coach Ron Sanchez said at the half hit home with his team. They came out of the locker room shooting the ball at over a 60 percent clip in the second half and ended up routing the Catamounts in the end.

“I think our offensive performance was predicated by our opponent a little bit,” Sanchez said after the game. “Also, our selfless play and the way we share the ball as well as take care of the ball really helped.”

This was the first time in the Ron Sanchez era in which the 49ers have had three players score over 20 points in a game. Robert Braswell, Jahmir Young and Austin Butler each had 20 or more points, and Clyde Trapp Jr. was not far behind with 17.

It isn’t often that at the end of a 49er basketball game we are discussing offense and how well they scored the ball, but rather the excellent defense that Sanchez has in place. Sanchez still feels that their great defense also led to their great offense.

Players of the game

Austin Butler: Butler put up a season-high 22 points, with several shots coming at the rim. For a sharpshooter like Butler, he takes a lot of three-pointers, but in this game, he was able to assert his will in the dribble-drive game as well.

“I think I am doing a much better job of just letting it come to me,” Butler said. “I would like to make a couple more three-pointers, but you know, just keep shooting.”

Robert Braswell: The Syracuse transfer admitted in the past that coming to Charlotte was a big change in style. Coming from a Jim Boeheim 2-3 zone look to a pack line defensive look can be challenging. However, Braswell has embraced the challenge and became a serious asset on the floor this year for the 49ers. His 22 points this game showed how much he has grown in his short time here. His defense is looking sharper than before, and he has solidified his starting role on the team.

Looking ahead

This win concludes the non-conference, and the 49ers will begin conference play on Dec. 30 against Florida Atlantic University.

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