Niners comeback bid falls behind in Myrtle Beach Invitational Title Game against UMASS

CONWAY, SC – An early 10-point hole was too much for the Charlotte men’s basketball team as the 49ers lost to UMASS, 60-54, in the Myrtle Beach Invitational Championship Sunday afternoon at Coastal Carolina’s HTC Center.

The loss is Charlotte’s first of the year (4-1), while UMASS (4-1) leaves South Carolina with the tournament crown.

Sophomore sensation Al Khalifa led the Niners in scoring in the afternoon, dropping 12 points in 5-of-9 shooting. He also had three rebounds, two assists and steals that day to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.

classmate Igor Milicic Jr. joined him in double figures and scored 11 points while grabbing five rebounds tying a team high and joining the effort on the defensive side with a block and a steal.

As a team, the Niners were a flurry on the defensive end, tallying nine steals as a team with Junior Jackson Threadgill and second graders Lu’Cye Patterson and Isaiah Folkes every shot a couple of takeaways.

The Niners also kept the Minutemen to just 30 percent shots from the field and a 28 percent mark from 3-point land in the second half, only to slowly re-enter the contest and earn a shot in the closing minutes.

UMASS was the attacker in the first five minutes and took a 12:2 lead in the first half at 15:25.

Charlotte remained steadfast with 15 minutes remaining, cutting the lead to just six to keep the deficit down to just 10 (38-28) before heading to the dressing room at half-time.

After the break, CLT continued to extend the Minuteman lead, using a series of timely buckets and a six-minute period in which they kept UMASS scoreless to slash the lead to just four points in the final minute.

The early deficit was too big to break, however, as UMASS walked away with a six-point win as the clock hit triple zero.

head coach Ron Sanchez and Frank Martin made their debut as head coaches today and are two of just four Latin American head coaches nationwide. Both are part and integral members of the Latin American Basketball Coaches Association.

Charlotte stays away from home as it travels north to the Motor City to face Detroit Mercy on Wednesday afternoon. Note from Calihan Hall is scheduled for noon ET on ESPN+.