CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Two undefeated teams came into Halton Arena on Saturday and one came away the victor as Charlotte controlled the contest from the opening tip in a 76-64 win over East Carolina.
Chris Braswell led the 49ers with 18 points while Willie Clayton, DeMario Wayfield and JT Thompson all ended up in double-figures.
All the things we've worked on for three days, you can work on it but it's hard to simulate it. Charlotte was physical in every spot. It wasn't even close out there. When the ball was in the air it wasn't even close," said Lebo, "Their excution and toughness was key. They are a physical team. We kind of got it manageable at half and missed four good looks to open the second half. And we put them on the foul line. We could not keep them off the line and that was the difference in the game."
The 49'ers got off to a quick 5-0 start. Willie Clayton extended the Charlotte lead to 7 before a Miguel Paul trey finally got ECU into the act with 15:35 in the first half.
Chris Braswell scored three times in one run for UNC-C before ECU began to eat into the 49er's lead. A Robert Sampson trey and a lay-in off a Paris Roberts-Campbell steal cut the lead to 13 with just over 7 minutes in the first period.
DeMario Mayfield took advantage of Paul inside before Mike Zangari scored off a feed from Marshall Guilmette to slice the lead to 11 with two and a half minutes in the half. Paul connected on two free throws to keep momentum going in the intermission before collecting his third foul and sitting out the last couple of minutes of the half.
The Pirates trailed 37-26 at halftime as both teams shot right around 45 percent in the first stanza.
Mike Zangari scored in the paint to open the second half but Clayton, Darian Clark and Braswell scored to push the lead back out to 14 in the first five minutes.
ECU(5-1) finally got something cooking when Kemp drove into the lane and hit a midrange jumper to cut the lead to 12.
Mayfield pushed the lead back to 17 on the second of two straight ECU turnovers with just over twelve minutes to go.
The Pirates found some hope a minute later when Paris Roberts-Campbell hit a trey and was fouled for a four point play.
Mayfield downed a left handed jumper to put Charlotte(6-1) up by 17 at 63-46 at the 8 minute mark as ECU remained cold from both the floor and the free throw line down the stretch.
Charlotte went up by 16 on a Clayton lay-in inside of four minutes to go. ECU fizzled on the offensive end of the floor late in a 76-64 win for the 49ers.
Maurice Kemp led ECU with 16 points while Miquel Paul and Paris Roberts-Campbell scored 12 each.
ECU hit only 38 pecent from the floor, 23 percent from the arc and 63 percent from the charity stripe in their first loss of the season.
Charlotte connected on 46 percent of their shot attempts and 67 percent from the line
while only hitting 1 of 9 from the three-point line.
ECU was manhandled on the glass to the tune of 45 to 21.