The Charlotte 49ers fought Memphis down to the wire before falling, 67-58, on the road New Year’s Eve.
Charlotte (7-5) took a brief one-point lead, 47-46, with 8:13 left on two KJ Sherrill free throws and were within one, 54-53, with 4:34 to play following a Pierria Henry three-pointer. But Memphis scored the next nine points to pull away in the final minutes.
“I thought effort-wise, we played hard enough to win,” said 49ers head coach Alan Major. “Let’s maintain that and add more purpose to what we do on both sides of the ball.”
Charlotte endured a bad shooting night by hitting the boards, forcing turnovers and hitting there free throws, but in the final four minutes could not get enough of any while their shooting woes continued.
Charlotte shot a season-low .246 from the field, which was buoyed by 35% shooting from three-point range (9-26). Charlotte battled on the boards, pulling 36, including 21 offensive boards. Charlotte had 10 steals and forced 16 turnovers while committing just 10.
Derrio Green led the 49ers with 12 points (4-of-9 FG) and Chris Braswell added 11 with seven rebounds. DeMario Mayfield had 10 points and eight rebounds. Javarris Barnett added a team-high nine rebounds and matched Pierria Henry with three steals.
Antonio Barton led Memphis (8-5) with 16 points while Will Barton added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Defensively, the 49ers held a Tiger team that was averaging 78 points per game to 67 at home. The Tigers shot 45% from the field and 46% from three-point range.
Despite the shooting differential, the outcome was still in question until the final minutes.
Within one point with 4:34 left, the 49ers came up empty on their next three possessions while Memphis pushed the lead to 59-53 and iced the game with 7-of-8 free throws in the final 55 seconds.
Charlotte has now lost three straight after winning five in a row. Charlotte will open Atlantic 10 Conference play, Wednesday night.
“I thought we got it back,” Major said. “That’s the things that was encouraging tonight. We got the edge. When we’re good we’re doing certain things on both sides of the ball. We need to shoot the ball better and improve our execution, offensively.”