CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte campus is right in the heart of ACC country.
On Sunday night, the 49ers took their first win over an ACC opponent in nearly nine years when they beat Wake Forest 67-65 in overtime in front of 4,819 fans at Halton Arena.
It ended a 13-game losing streak to ACC opposition and avenged an 80-56 road loss at Wake Forest last season in Charlotte coach Ron Sanchez’s first year at the school.
Freshman guard Jahmir Young led the way for Charlotte (2-1) with 24 points. Jordan Shepherd added 16 points, four in overtime, and Malik Martin had 12 points.
A 10-year assistant coach at defending national champion Virginia of the ACC, Sanchez was quick to point out the long losing streak barely included him after Sunday’s win.
“I’ve only been here two seasons,” Sanchez said. “It’s big for us, not just because they’re an ACC team because there’s plenty of good teams on our schedule.
“For us, it’s a respect for the game and a respect for all of our opponents. We don’t look at what conference they come from and then turn it on. To have an ACC team in our building is huge and to come up with a win means a lot.”
The largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte annually hosts the ACC football title game, and has frequently hosted the ACC basketball and baseball tournaments.
Sunday’s win marks the first for the 49ers over an ACC school since an 86-83 overtime win at Georgia Tech on Jan. 2, 2011.
And it came five days after Charlotte knocked off cross-county rival Davidson for Charlotte’s first win in “The Hornets Nest” series since 2012.
“Davidson and Wake Forest are well-coached teams with great talent on their teams,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s human nature to seek validation in what we’re doing. This is hard. Winning is hard. Competing at this level is hard. For them to have success means a lot.”
Brandon Childress had 19 points and Chaudree Brown scored 12 for Wake Forest (2-2). Adrien White, a transfer from Charlotte, added 10 points.
In the extra period, Charlotte scored the first six points to build a 63-57 lead with 3:31 left before surviving two late Wake Forest 3-pointers to take the victory.
Wake Forest’s last chance bounded away when Childress’ 3-pointer from the right wing with 7.2 seconds left was off-target. The Deacons converted 10 of 25 3-pointers overall.
“Charlotte had a good and excited home crowd and they were able to feed off that energy,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “We did some things to fight and claw back into the game late and take it into overtime. But we didn’t have enough juice to finish it like we needed to.”
Charlotte took a game-high 15-7 lead midway through the first half before Wake Forest rallied to forge ahead 25-24 with 2:42 left in the opening half.
The teams went into halftime tied at 29-all and were never separated by more than six points in the second half.
Charlotte held a 54-48 lead with 4:26 to play before Wake Forest hit three 3-pointers in the final 1:19 to force overtime.
Wake Forest stayed in the game and forced overtime by converting 10 of 25 3-pointers. According to Manning, much of that was caused by what the Deacons were not doing.
“We have to put more pressure on teams,” Manning said. “We didn’t have our first free throw until 5 ½ left in the first half.
“We’ve got to have more paint touches. Then when we get our paint touches, we have to reward ourselves. We missed 11 layups throughout the course of the game and three in overtime.”
Young, a point guard, comes from the nationally-renowned DeMatha Catholic High School program out of Hyattsville, Md.
He’s started all three games for the 49ers and is averaging 16.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
“Jahmir comes from one of the best high school programs in the country,” Sanchez said. “He was well-coached. When we ask Jahmir to do something, we’re not the first to ask him to do that. That was why we were so excited when he chose us.”
Said Young: “We’ve just got to stay level-headed. It’s a big win but we’ve got to get back to practice the next day.”
Wake Forest: After losing its regular season and ACC opener 77-70 at Boston College, Wake Forest had won two straight before Sunday’s loss.
Charlotte: After five straight losing seasons, including 6-23 in 2017-18 and 8-21 in 2018-19, the 49ers are clearly making progress under second-year coach Ron Sanchez.
Wake Forest: The Deacons will be back in Charlotte on Friday night when they meet Davidson at The Spectrum Center that is the home of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.
Charlotte: The 49ers visit in-state rival Appalachian State on Thursday at 7 p.m.
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