When you hustle and play with the electrical charge that the Charlotte 49ers have played with so far this season, inevitably somewhere there is going to be a scrum and there will be a crossroads in a game where you have to circle the wagons, band together and make things happen to pull out a win.
That scenario played out Saturday in UNCC’s 78-66 victory over Central Michigan when Pierria Henry and the Chippewas’ Kyle Randall hit the floor after a loose ball. Both players refused to give up the basketball and the official ran in to try to separate the two. They weren’t fighting. They were just taking ownership. After the two players had been pried apart, Henry was interestingly ejected from the game. There was no outlandish behavior on his part that would warrant the ejection.
Pierria Henry is a major component in the Charlotte 49ers’ recipe in 2012-13. (Credit: Sam Roberts)
After the game, David Scott of the Charlotte Observer was granted a quote from the officials locker room that included Frank Scagliotta, Mike Ashurst, and former Major League Baseballer Tracy Woodson.
“An unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul was called on the player (Henry) and the visiting coach (Keno Davis) and number 15 was ejected for language used toward the official,” explained the quote.
Henry thought a Chippewa was trying to move him off the ball and didn’t realize it was the official. At the end of the day, the assumption cost Henry, one of the 49ers’ key leaders, the last 12:26 of the game.
“It was in his own gentle way that he told whoever grabbed him to get off him,” said 49ers coach Alan Major, “Unfortunately, it was the official.”
Luckily for Charlotte, the episode was not considered a fight, so even with the ejection, Henry will be available when Charlotte faces it’s stiffest test to date on Friday against the ACC’s Hurricanes in Miami.
With a 48-35 lead at that point, the 49ers were threatened on a couple of occasions by Central Michigan, which is in rebuilding mode in Davis’ first season but came in with a respectable 4-4 record. Ultimately, E. Victor Nickerson and Denzel Ingram nailed three-point field goals on back-to-back trips with the second, Ingram’s, giving UNCC the lead at 70-58 with 2:44 to go.
With Henry in the locker room, it was Ingram, one of Charlotte’s key freshmen who ran the team well down the stretch, finishing with 13 points, five assists, and no turnovers in 30 minutes.
“He has come in and really given us a steadiness as a freshman,” noted Major, who took the initiative to tease the Chapel Hill, N.C. native, “In about two months, he will lose the ‘freshman’ label and be Denzel.”
It was just another way for the 9-0 49ers to add to their victory total as they are looking more and more like a major player in the Athletic 10 this season.
“I think the big thing we preach to these guys is humility,” explained Major “We told them that Thursday night. Anytime you win a game, the next game doesn’t owe you anything. Go pack your lunch pail and do what you have to do.”
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