Hawks end 49ers’ season
By Aaron Bracy
PHILADELPHIA Charlotte couldn’t work its defensive magic a second time at Saint Joseph’s.
The 49ers forced the Hawks into one of their worst offensive performances of the season in Charlotte’s regular-season win on Hawk Hill in early January, but couldn’t do it with the stakes a little higher this time around.
Carl Jones scored 23 points and fifth-seeded St. Joseph’s shot 54.7 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the arc in an 80-64 victory against No. 12 seed Charlotte in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament at Hagan Arena.
The Hawks (20-12) advance to Friday’s quarterfinals in Atlantic City, N.J., while Charlotte (13-17) ends its season for the fourth straight year without a postseason tournament.
“Defensively we had some lapses on the ball screens and they got a lot of transition buckets,” said Charlotte senior Javarris Barnett, who had nine points in his final game. “Our effort down the stretch, one or two plays here or there would’ve went our way, I think it would’ve been a closer game. St. Joe’s outplayed us, props to them. They’re a good team.”
St. Joseph’s, which shot 2-for-21 in the 57-52 defeat Jan. 7, got 18 points from Langston Galloway. In the first matchup, the Hawks’ backcourt of Jones and Galloway combined for 20 points and nine turnovers. This time they had 41 points and one turnover.
“Their two key guys got going tonight,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “Their ‘A’ students got ‘A’s, that’s probably the biggest difference.”
The 49ers never led but closed St. Joseph’s 52-38 advantage with 13 minutes, 47 seconds left to 63-60 on Victor Nickerson’s 3-pointer with 6:59 to play.
But the Hawks scored four straight to gain a comfortable seven-point edge and then put the game away with consecutive three-point plays by Jones and Galloway, the latter upping the lead to 75-64 with 1:21 left.
“Every time we’d make a push, one of those two guys would be right there to make a play,” Major said.
Chris Braswell had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead the 49ers, who also got 12 points from DeMario Mayfield.
Barnett, the lone senior in the starting lineup, said the loss was like several this season.
“The little things that help you win,” he said of what was lacking at times. “In those close games we couldn’t do it and that ultimately hurt us in those close games.”
Major is optimistic that the 49ers can turn things around.
“We’re not that far off,” he said. “It’s not about talent and being good enough, it’s about little things that separate us. I’m very excited about it. We’ll have a lot of developmental time and that to me is the exciting thing.”