Game #9-313: Charlotte 49ers at Richmond SpidersJanuary 19, 2013 6:00 pm
People seem to forget that Charlotte is in the Atlantic 10. While most of the conference's power is in the northeast, Charlotte sits in the south quietly going about their business. I became familiar with Charlotte (or UNC Charlotte back in the day) as a kid because they matched up annually with VCU in the old Metro Conference. Since then the 49ers have had their fair share of twenty-win seasons, but they have kind of fallen off the map since their last NCAA appearance in 2005.
I kind of had an "O yea..." moment this fall when it was announced that Charlotte would go back to Conference USA for reasons purely pertaining to football. To be honest, I too had forgotten about the 49ers. Charlotte just isn't a good fit for the A10. They don't fit the geographic footprint and they just hanging out alone as probably the only school with southern ideals in the whole conference.
Despite forgetting about the 'Niners, I did a little research before heading to see them play Richmond on Saturday night. A quick stop at Basketball State showed me that Charlotte was 15-2 and undefeated in the A10. WAIT WHAT....? This squad was 15-2 and I hadn't heard a peep from anyone about them? How could that be? Charlotte's only two losses came to ACC foes Florida State and Miami. Despite those upset opportunities, the rest of the 49ers schedule left a little to be desired except a victory over a pesky Davidson squad.
So I headed on to the pregame watering hole without knowing what to expect from this Charlotte squad. When I got to the bar I found out everyone else, a usually knowledgeable basketball crowd, didn't know much about the boys in green either. The name Chris Braswell popped up a little, a starting senior averaging in double-figures. But the 49ers still remained a relative unknown.
It was kind of hard to know what to expect to see out of the Spiders also. Richmond remains without their premier big man Derrick Williams due to a high ankle injury. Richmond was coming off five losses in their last seven games. The Spiders were coming off a loss to Butler, which was expected, but also lost at La Salle, a surprising team in the Atlantic 10. Richmond knew they were headed for a crosstown showdown with VCU, so would they look past the unheralded 49ers?
The quick answer to that questions was...NO....and Darien Brothers was the one who answered it. Brothers, who is one of the best pure shooters I've seen, absolutely went off on the 49ers. Richmond shot off to a 9-0 lead and never looked back. At halftime the game was 38-28 and in the end the score was 81-61. It was a beat down to say the least and Brothers ended the night with a monster 39 points. Within those 39 points, Brothers was 10 for 14 from the field, 8 for 11 from downtown, and 11 for 12 from the charity stripe...yea, that's the definition of hot. All I could think of over the course of the game was that NBA Jam voice, "HE'S ON FIRE!"
Richmond can now focus on the Rams and a sold out 9,000 plus seat stadium on Thursday night. They still will be without Williams, but it seems like you can always throw everything out the window on these rivalries. Charlotte now moves back into obscurity, awaiting plenty more fan bases that no nothing about them across the Atlantic 10 footprint.
at RICHMOND 81, CHARLOTTE 61
CHARLOTTE 15-3 (3-1) -- P. Henry 7-12 0-0 16; D. Mayfield 2-9 7-10 11; C. Braswell 5-8 0-0 10; T. Williams 0-3 2-2 2; E. Nickerson 2-5 2-2 6; D. Ingram 2-5 0-0 5; W. Clayton 1-4 0-0 2; J. Thompson 3-4 2-3 8; D. Clark 0-0 1-2 1; I. Benkovic 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-51 14-19 61.
RICHMOND 12-7 (2-2) -- G. Robbins 3-5 0-0 7; D. Brothers 10-14 11-12 39; D. Taylor 5-9 1-2 13; C. Lindsay 1-5 2-3 4; K. Anthony 4-9 3-4 12; A. Nelson-Ododa 1-5 2-2 4; T. Allen 1-2 0-0 2; T. Davis 0-0 0-0 0; W. Sparrow 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-51 19-23 81.
Three-point goals: CHAR 3-15 (C. Braswell 0-2; D. Mayfield 0-3; E. Nickerson 0-2; T. Williams 0-1; P. Henry 2-3; I. Benkovic 0-1; D. Ingram 1-3), RICH 12-27 (D. Brothers 8-11; G. Robbins 1-2; C. Lindsay 0-2; W. Sparrow 0-1; K. Anthony 1-4; A. Nelson-Ododa 0-2; T. Allen 0-1; D. Taylor 2-4); Rebounds: CHAR 35 (C. Braswell 9), RICH 26 (D. Brothers 8); Assists: CHAR 9 (T. Williams 3), RICH 14 (G. Robbins 4); Total Fouls -- CHAR 22, RICH 15; Fouled Out: CHAR-T. Williams; RICH-None.