Charlotte rallied from a 20-point, second half deficit to take a one-point lead before falling at UMass, 85-75, in A-10 action Wednesday night.
“It’s tough. Being down 20 and fighting back to be up one. Us having the intensity to fight back and keep our heads up and stick together as a team. We fought hard to come back.” junior forward Chris Braswell said.
The 49ers (9-6; 2-1) dug a pair of holes to start both halves, including giving up 13 of the first 17 points of the second half to trail, 57-37 with 16:22 to left in the second half.
But Braswell, who finished with a career-high 31 points, ignited a furious comeback, hitting three three-pointers from the top of the key during a 17-2 run that brought Charlotte within five, 59-54 with 10:05 left.
UMass (13-4; 2-1) opened the lead back to 11, 68-57, before Charlotte rattled off 12 straight points, the last five of which came form Braswell inside on a conventional three-point play and a layup underneath. The latter gave Charlotte a 69-68 lead with 4:47 left to play.
UMass scored the next 10 points, however, hitting 8-of-8 free throws to rebuild a nine-point lead, 78-69 with 1:24 left.
A Pierria Henry three cut the deficit to five, 80-75 with 00:57 left but UMass hit its free throws down the stretch to claim the victory.
Braswell hit 10-of-11 free throws and added the three three-pointers to finish with 31 points, the most scored by a 49er this year. DeMario Mayfield added 15 and Henry finished with 12.
Chaz Williams and Raphiael Putney led UMass with 19. The Minutemen outrebounded the 49ers 38-27 and shot 55% from the field and hit 26-of-31 free throws (.839). Charlotte forced 20 turnovers with 13 steals.
“Our defense in the second half got us back in the game,” Braswell said. We needed to step up our defense in the second half.”
Charlotte trailed 44-33 at the half, allowing the Minutemen to score the most first half points Charlotte has allowed this year.
The 49ers host Saint Louis, Saturday at 2:00 p.m. at Halton Arena.