No. 19 Florida Atlantic will try to begin another winning streak after an historic stretch came to a close.
The Owls (21-2, 11-1 Conference USA) , who are one win from breaking the team record for wins in a season, play their second road game in three days when facing Charlotte on Saturday.
Florida Atlantic tumbled 86-77 on Thursday night at Alabama-Birmingham.
“We couldn’t get the shots to drop when we did get in close,” Owls coach Dusty May said. “We’re happy with only six turnovers against their 1-3-1 zone. We weren’t able to run our stuff. They had us out of our rhythm a little bit.”
Florida Atlantic had gone 83 days since losing in building a 20-game winning streak.
The Owls’ 20-game winning streak matched the third-longest string in Conference USA history and was the longest in the league in 21 years.
Redshirt freshman Nick Boyd had a career-high 18 points in the UAB game. Other issues, though, surfaced.
“You put a team on the line 31 times and get outrebounded 45-37, this is probably going to be the end result,” May said.
Charlotte (13-9, 4-7) has lost its last two games. Brice Williams poured in 27 points for the 49ers for half of the team’s points in Thursday night’s 57-54 home loss to Florida International.
The 49ers are accustomed to close outcomes. Each of their last five games has been decided by four points or less.
“We just have to make a couple of plays on the defensive end and offensive end to try to close out some of these close games,” Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez said. “A lot of lessons to be learned here.”
Williams has scored 27 or more points in four Conference USA games this season.
Because of COVID-19, Charlotte played Thursday night without Aly Khalifa, the team’s second-leading scorer (11.7) and top rebounder (7.0).
“I felt like it was on all of us to pick up our play,” Williams said.
Josh Aldrich was in Charlotte’s starting lineup for the first time and collected six rebounds.
“We prepared Josh to play the role,” Sanchez said.
The Owls won 71-67 against Charlotte on Jan. 7 at home. After opening a 14-point halftime lead, Florida Atlantic had to withstand a comeback from the 49ers.
Reserves played major roles in the first meeting. Alijah Martin had a game-high 17 points for Florida Atlantic. Williams, who mostly has played as a reserve, scored 16 points off the bench for Charlotte.
A large percentage of field goals came from 3-point range in the January game. Charlotte hit 11 of its 3s among 26 total field goals, while half of Florida Atlantic’s 26 field goals were 3-
pointers. The Owls committed only three turnovers in the game.
Yet the first matchup had Florida Atlantic taxed at times.
“A very tough and physical Charlotte basketball team that’s well-coached,” May said. “They hit around 15 points with less than two seconds on the shot clock. Everything didn’t go well, but our guys stepped up to make the plays necessary.”
The rematch is another chance for the 49ers to accomplish that.
“We literally can compete with anybody in the conference,” Sanchez said. “Down the stretch, we just have to execute a little better.”
–Field Level Media