Charlotte's men's basketball team hosted the Davidson Wildcats in the annual Hornets' Nest game on Nov. 30. Davidson took the game 75-58 at Halton Arena and took back control of the Hornets' Nest trophy.
The 49ers had trouble handling Davidson's Hyunjung Lee as he scored a game-high 32 points.
"First of all, you have to tip your hat when a player has a game of that caliber. I think he is one of the best cutting guards that we will have an opportunity to compete against this year," Head Coach Ron Sanchez said about Lee.
"I give Davidson credit for the defensive effort. I think that they were connected tremendously defensively," he added.
Charlotte only held the lead when they were up 3-0 at the beginning of the game, which Davidson answered back with a 9-0 run putting an end to Charlotte's lone lead.
With the loss, the Niners fell to 3-3 on the season while Davidson improved to 5-2 in the young campaign. Here are the takeaways from the Hornets' Nest game.
Aly Khalifa and Marvin Cannon shine in expanded roles
Khalifa had his best performance of his young career, putting up a career-high in points with 18 for the Niners. Khalifa put up six rebounds, two assists, and one steal while playing a career-high minutes total of 33.
Khalifa also broke his streak of nine missed three-pointers to begin the season. Despite the slow shooting start to the season, he remained optimistic his shot would come to him eventually in-game, which it did as he drained three of five shots from behind the arc.
"I knew I needed to keep shooting because that's what shooters do. I knew it would go in eventually," said Khalifa.
Another player who thrived with more playing time this game was Cannon, who had only 16 minutes total in his only three games played this season came in off the bench and played 19 productive minutes.
Cannon shot 4-6, putting up nine points, grabbing four blocks, dishing out two assists while also providing a strong defensive presence with one block and one steal.
Prior to the season, Sanchez said Cannon would be the defensive x-factor for the team, and he showed it last night with his defense, allowing the Niners to go on runs to get the game close, but ultimately they couldn't fully complete the comeback.
"Marvin has been practicing really hard, and he's one of those guys who've stayed ready," said Sanchez. "We knew his number would be called at some point. Maybe he can be that guy because of his quickness who can be the defensive stopper for us."
Hyunjung Lee feasted on Charlotte's lax defense
Coming off a thanksgiving weekend matchup with Robert Morris where he put up a career-high 23 points, Lee set a new career-high in points and rebounds, putting up 32 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Davidson Head Coach Bob McKillop said,
"Lee has been making plays for us all year long…you put the ball in his hands, and good things happen," Davidson Head Coach Bob McKillop said.
Lee was the definition of efficient in the game as he shot 9-17 from the field and made 50% of his three-pointers, shooting 6-12 and making all eight free throws attempted.
Niners defense unable to close out on shooters
Charlotte knew coming into the game that the Wildcats could shoot and shoot it well, shooting 42.3% from the three-point line coming into the game. Coach Sanchez emphasized perimeter defense in practice all week, but it came to no avail as Davidson shot 52.4% from behind the arc in the game with 33 points coming from the three-point line.
"We wanted to defend the three-point line well, and obviously, we did not. We've got to get a lot better guarding one-on-one. That's not a system thing, that's a heart thing. As a group, we have to be better," said Sanchez.
Moving forward, the 49ers' defense will be an area of improvement needed to close and win big games.
Next up for the Niners
Charlotte's will host Georgia Washington at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Halton Arena. You can stream the game on ESPN+.