Game #9-154: Central Michigan at Charlotte 49ersDecember 8, 2012 2:00 pm
Everyone loves the aura a team has when it is undefeated. It does not matter what the level of competition is, there is always that great feeling when seeing a 0 in the loss column of your favorite squad. Sloppy play and flaws could be running amuck on a team, but that can all be silenced by a perfect record. Teams can be 30-1, but you will always have the pessimists that will look back and try to figure out how that one blemish happened.
In the early season, it usually does not take too long for teams below the Red Line to get their first loss. A lot of them come in the form of guarantee games where the odds are stacked against them. More come in the even non-conference match-ups that can pit city or state rivals from different conferences against each other.
One of the few teams that have survived so far are the Charlotte 49ers. When I saw they would be playing Central Michigan, I knew I would probably decide to make the drive up. Growing up in Michigan, I had always been a fan of the directional Michigan MAC schools. I did not figure at this point in the season they would be playing an 8-0 49er squad though.
While Charlotte had not yet had a terribly difficult schedule, it was not like they haven't faced any challenges thus far. Going up to Alaska and winning the Great Alaska Shootout is no small feat. That event may not bring in the prestigious teams like it used to, but traveling and playing in Anchorage definitely has its inherent difficulties.
East Carolina is no power in Conference USA, but Charlotte's win over them is a Red Line Upset nonetheless. In what was probably the most difficult game for Charlotte so far, they were able to make the short trip up to Davidson and get a win over their rivals.
On paper, it looked as if the Chippewas did not pose much of a threat to give Charlotte their first defeat. Keno Davis has CMU aimed in the right direction, but there is work to be done. It would have been nice if Trey Zeigler was still around for Central, but he bolted
after his father was fired in the offseason
I had only been to one game last year at Halton Arena and that was the rivalry game the 49ers had with Davidson. I had enjoyed the warring student sections in that game and was pleased to see that while this was no rivalry, the Charlotte students still provided a loud and fun atmosphere.
You could tell from the early going that Charlotte has relied on its defense to earn that clean record. After an early period of each team feeling each other out, the 49ers put the clamps down on CMU and made them earn most of their points. The 49ers did not seem to be the best shooting team, but they were able to establish a 21-13 advantage.
Central Michigan was able to avoid an early rout by using the great equalizer of the three-point shot. Since the Chips could not get much inside, they resorted to some long-range bombs that started to fall. John Simons, Kyle Randall and Blake Hibbitts were able to help tie it at 27. Charlotte stopped the run at the end of the half by closing out the final 90 seconds with the final 4 points.
Once halftime hit, I checked my phone and looked at my Twitter feed. Surprisingly, I saw TMM8 vet Gary Moore
was commenting on the same game. I found out which section he was in and walked over to introduce myself. After reading Gary's articles all of last year and continuing into this year where he has made the move to South Carolina for a new job, I knew he was very knowledgeable of the college game. It is always great to get someone else's perspective of a game, so I stuck around for the second half where we chatted up several topics and I sat amazed at how he could live tweet while simultaneously keep full attention on the action.
Gary also pointed out how tough the Charlotte defense was being and they kept up the pressure starting off the second half. The 49ers were forcing an abundance of CMU turnovers and converting them into fast-break points.
With the lead up to 13 for Charlotte, a little bit of frustration started to settle in for CMU. Coach Davis was laying into the refs and in turn the Charlotte fans were laying into Coach Davis. After a scuffle for a loose ball, tempers flared and Charlotte's Pierria Henry ended up getting ejected. Davis also ended up getting a technical in the confusion, but stayed in the game. The crowd got irate with him every time he stormed over to the officials during the long break while they were reviewing the altercation.
at CHARLOTTE 78, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 66
The long delay did serve to stop the defensive momentum for Charlotte as CMU was able to put some points on the board once play started up again. The 49ers kept answering each small run with one of their own and even threw in a big time alley-oop dunk from Demario Mayfield.
Central Michigan had one last push when they nailed a few more threes.. A Hibbitts superhoop had the lead down to six, but consecutive three-pointers from Victor Nickerson and Denzel Ingram shut the door on the comeback.
While Charlotte does have its flaws with its lack of consistent outside shooting, they have a extremely solid defense to make up for it. All that matters in the end is that the team kept its 0 in the loss column. It may always end in a loss, but Charlotte is doing everything they can to prevent that first one from happening.
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 4-4 (0-0) -- J. Simons 5-9 1-2 13; C. Fowler 1-5 5-6 7; K. Randall 4-17 5-5 15; B. Hibbitts 4-9 0-0 11; A. Keel 1-4 1-1 3; D. Richardson Jr 0-3 0-0 0; A. Stewart 1-3 0-0 2; O. Mbaigoto 4-5 2-2 13; F. Craddock 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 20-56 16-18 66.
CHARLOTTE 9-0 (0-0) -- D. Ingram 5-7 0-0 13; C. Braswell 4-11 0-1 8; D. Mayfield 5-10 2-2 15; J. Thompson 3-6 2-2 8; W. Clayton 5-6 0-3 10; P. Henry 2-6 0-0 4; T. Williams 0-3 6-6 6; E. Nickerson 2-4 0-0 5; D. Clarke 3-6 0-1 6; I. Benkovic 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 30-61 10-15 78.
Three-point goals: CMU 10-27 (K. Randall 2-7; A. Keel 0-3; O. Mbaigoto 3-3; B. Hibbitts 3-7; D. Richardson Jr 0-1; J. Simons 2-6), CHAR 8-22 (C. Braswell 0-3; D. Mayfield 3-7; E. Nickerson 1-2; T. Williams 0-1; P. Henry 0-3; I. Benkovic 1-1; D. Ingram 3-5); Rebounds: CMU 35 (B. Hibbitts 7), CHAR 37 (C. Braswell 12); Assists: CMU 13 (C. Fowler 6), CHAR 23 (T. Williams 5); Total Fouls -- CMU 16, CHAR 16; Fouled Out: CMU-None; CHAR-None.