Takeaways articles

Charlotte's Ron Sanchez talks to his team in the huddle.

The Charlotte men's basketball team comes up short to Rice, 73-61 in the second round of the Conference USA (C-USA) tournament on Wednesday, March 9 in Frisco, Texas. The 49ers' 2021-2022 season ends with a heartbreaking loss. 

The 49ers seemed well-positioned to win their first tournament game since 2015-2016, with a 7-0 lead right out of the gates, but many of their weaknesses plagued Charlotte in the contest. Here are some takeaways from the game:

1. Jahmir Young is the difference:

Jahmir Young has been one of the best players in C-USA since he arrived at Charlotte. This season, the All-Conference player put on a display, averaging a career-high 20 points, six rebounds and four assists on 48% shooting. Young was the driving force for the 49ers all season long; whenever the team needed a play, he was always the one to deliver it. 

Young became the first player since DeMarco Johnson in the 1997-98 season to score double-figures in every game for the 49ers in a season.

Young has produced at a high level all season long, and he has stepped into the leadership role for the team. He struggled in the contest, shooting 6-21 from the floor, and the 49ers had to fight from behind, which shows his importance to the team. Young is an outstanding talent, and all signs point to him returning for his senior season next year. This game will be a motivating factor heading into next season for the 49ers star.

2. Rice's big men were the difference: 

The development of Freshman Aly Khalifa was fun to watch this season. The near seven-footer was second on the team in assists with 107. At least once a game, Khalifa would make a pass, having the audience wonder how he pulled it off. The gifted passer became one of the bright spots for the 49ers, and he is an intriguing part of the future.

However, Khalifa was prone to foul trouble throughout the season. Khalifa led the 49ers with 92 personal fouls this year, and it heavily limited critical stretches of games for the C-USA Freshman of the Year. Khalifa fouled out of Wednesday's game and only played 17 minutes. 

The Owls won the battle in the paint, which was a big reason for the win. Rice had 30 combined points from their forwards Max Fiedler, Mylyjael Poteat and Riley Abercrombie. With Khalifa in foul trouble, Perry Francois, Luka Vasic, Robert Braswell and Jared Garcia all received action for the 49ers in the contest. The 49ers must address this issue of foul trouble in the future, or the team will run into similar problems next season. 

3. Scoring droughts hurt:

Scoring droughts hurt the 49ers in this tournament game against the Owls. Every team faces an occasional drought throughout the season, but with the 49ers, this happened too often.

From opening night against Monmouth, where a late-game drought almost cost the 49ers a double-digit lead, to Charlotte's last game of the season, where they held a drought for over six minutes in the first half against Rice, after jumping out to a 14-9 lead. A solution to this issue is finding more players who can routinely create their shots in the offseason. 

Next up:

With the loss, the Charlotte men's basketball team's season ends. The 49ers finished the season 17-14 overall and 10-8 in C-USA play. Charlotte could be selected for another postseason tournament in the coming days as the team hopes to play on.

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