Jordan Shepherd connected on a last-second layup to give Charlotte a 72-70 victory on the road against one of Conference USA’s top teams, Western Kentucky.
Shepherd, Jahmir Young, Drew Edwards, Malik Martin, and Milos Supica scored in double figures against the Hilltoppers. Starting center Amidou Bamba fell just short of a double-figure scoring with an eight-point performance.
Charlotte started the game off by scoring six unanswered points, instilling a concerned quietness in the Hilltoppers’ E.A. Diddle Arena. The 49ers also played suffocating, motivated defense which forced six Western Kentucky turnovers in the first 3:30 of the game.
Charlotte maintained a comfortable lead until Hilltoppers’ guard Cameron Justice connected on a pair of free throws to trim Charlotte’s lead to 13-12. The game remained highly contested throughout the remainder of the first half. Edwards, Shepherd, Bamba and Supica fueled the 49ers' offense throughout the first quarter. Martin remained quiet with zero points on one first-half shot attempt. The Hilltoppers were led by the backcourt duo of Taveion Hollingsworth and Josh Anderson, scoring 9 and 10 points, respectively. Charlotte entered the halftime break with a 33-27 lead.
The 49ers kept and at times extended their lead throughout the majority of the second half. Martin started making an impact on offense while Young, Edwards, Shepherd and Supica continued to produce at a steady pace. However, the Hollingsworth, Anderson and Western Kentucky never let the 49ers lead get out of hand, and the Hilltoppers claimed their first lead of the game with three minutes remaining in the game.
With 1:30 left in the game, Anderson tied the score 64-64 with an emphatic dunk. The 49ers responded as Edwards connected on a three to give Charlotte a 67-64 lead. However, Hilltoppers guard Jared Savage, who remained scoreless throughout the entire first half, connected on a three to tie the game. Edwards answered Savage’s three with one of his own only for Savage to connect on another three to tie the game at 70.
With the game on the line and the 49ers on the verge of a huge upset victory, Charlotte put the ball in the hands of Shepherd and he delivered by connecting on a high-contested layup to give the 49ers a 72-70 victory.
Supica led Charlotte with 14 points while the 49ers backcourt duo of Shepherd and Young each scored 13 points. Both Edwards and Martin contributed 10 points.
Charlotte looks to claim another win at home against Florida International on Saturday, March 1.