The Charlotte 49ers made a little history on Super Bowl Sunday.
Charlotte beat Temple in Philadelphia for the first time, holding off a late Owls’ rally to win 73-70.
Charlotte was 0-6 previously at Temple.
Charlotte led by 14 points with less than six minutes to play but struggled to close in Sunday’s game. Temple’s Matte Picarelli missed a contested 3-point shot on Temple’s final possession that could’ve sent the game into overtime.
The win moves Charlotte to 15-8, 9-2 in the American Athletic Conference. The 49ers are tied for second place in league play with Florida Atlantic, one game behind South Florida.
“My heart’s racing right now, I can tell you that,” said Charlotte coach Aaron Fearne, whose team blew a 17-point lead at South Florida Tuesday. “It was a little bit like the last game. We had a good lead and they stormed back. The home team is always going to give you that final punch right at the end of the game. South Florida did that last week and we couldn’t quite get across the line.”
On Sunday, Charlotte started out well, running out to a nine-point lead, but eight first-half turnovers allowed Temple (8-16, 1-10) to stay close.
In fact, Temple tied the game at 43 in the second half and was down two, 49-47, with nine minutes to play.
But after that, the ‘Niners found their gear — at least for a little while — and Temple eventually lost its ninth straight game.
During its hot stretch, Charlotte made five of six shots and went on a 11-2 run to take a 60-49 lead after a 3-point play from forward Dishon Jackson with 6:15 left. Then, after another defensive stop, former Davidson Day star Jackson Threadgill was fouled on a 3-point play.
Threadgill made all three free throws and pushed the lead to 14.
But then, things got a little shaky for the 49ers.
Charlotte didn’t make field goal in the final 6:15. A pair of turnovers in the final 90 seconds didn’t help, either.
Niners star Igor Milicic, Jr., made 1-of-2 free throws to give Charlotte a 73-70 lead with 12 seconds left. That left Temple with a chance to tie, but Picarelli’s shot was long and left.
Charlotte won for the ninth time in 10 tries.
“Look,” Fearne said, “I’m proud of the guys. We’re trying to find ways to continue to grow and being in these situations helps that.”
Three who mattered
Lu’Cye Patterson, Charlotte: Patterson had a game-high 22 points, making 6-of-12 field goal attempts, 3-of-5 3-pointers and all seven of his free throws. He also had three rebounds and three assists.
Igor Milicic, Jr., Charlotte: Milicic didn’t score until 16:20 left in the game. He finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two assists.
Dishon Jackson, Charlotte: Jackson had 15 points, on 7-for-10 shooting, and 11 rebounds.
▪ Patterson made a half-court buzzer-beating 3-point shot at halftime to give the 49ers a 33-29 lead.
▪ Heading into Sunday’s game, there were seven teams in AAC with a winning record in conference play. Charlotte, one of those seven teams, owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over three of the other six — Florida Atlantic, UAB and North Texas — and the 49ers have a game remaining with South Florida.
▪ Six of Charlotte’s remaining eight games are against teams with losing records in league play.
▪ Temple was picked 12th in the league in preseason. Charlotte was picked 13th.
They said it
“It feels good, all credit to my teammates finding me over the years and it feels good to complete that milestone. The next milestone is to win the American Conference Championship and get to the NCAA Tournament.” — Patterson, who scored his 1,000th career point Sunday.
Charlotte returns home for the first of two home games next week. The 49ers play UTSA at 7 p.m. Thursday night (ESPN+). At noon on Sunday, Charlotte plays Wichita State.