GAME NOTES: The Charlotte 49ers will try to put an end to a two-game losing streak as they host the Florida Atlantic Owls in Conference USA action at Halton Arena.
Florida Atlantic has gone on several long losing streaks this season, but has won three of its past five games. The Owls are coming off a 66-57 loss to Florida International which set them back to 2-3 in Conference USA standings.
Charlotte has lost two in a row and three of its last five games - all in conference play. The 49ers lost to Louisiana Tech - one of the conference leaders - and to Rice, which was Rice's first Conference USA victory of the season. The 49ers were defeated by the Owls, 71-69.
This meeting between Charlotte and Florida Atlantic will be the first ever in the series. It's the only time the two programs will meet during this regular season.
The Owls turned the ball over on three consecutive drives early in the game that allowed Florida International to build a 17-5 lead. FAU was able to cut the lead down to six, but several more runs for the Panthers got the lead back up to double digits. Pablo Bertone scored a team-high 19 points, while Justin Raffington netted 12 and grabbed 10 rebounds for the double-double. Raffington added five assists and a steal to his stat line. The Owls shot 38.2 percent from the floor in the contest.
Bertone leads the team this season in scoring with 18.1 ppg on 41.9 percent shooting from the floor. His 47 assists tops the team, as does his 25 steals. Jackson Trapp is the only other FAU player averaging scoring numbers in the double digits at 10.3 ppg. Raffington leads the Owls in rebounding at 9.2 rpg, adding 9.6 ppg to his stat totals. FAU is averaging 68 ppg this season through 20 contests.
Charlotte fell behind Rice early, and trailed the Owls at the half, 36-31. The 49ers came back in the second half by outscoring Rice 38-35 in the period, but the comeback fell just two points shy. Shawn Lester scored a team-high 18 points in the loss, while Willie Clayton chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double, but had eight turnovers. Pierria Henry had 10 points and six assists for Charlotte.
Henry and Lester are tied for the team lead in scoring at 12.4 ppg each. Lester has the better shooting percentage at 44.1 percent from the floor, but Henry has a team-best 110 assists and 44 steals on the year. Clayton nets 11.8 ppg and has a team-leading 9.3 rpg average. Clayton shoots 63.5 percent from the field this season. Charlotte is averaging 75 ppg through 19 games played.
The 49ers have lost two straight games in Conference USA play, but both games were on the road. Charlotte returns home where the team has won three straight games. Florida Atlantic will have to try and keep pace with an up-tempo offensive 49ers attack.
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