KENNESAW, Ga. -- After a 14-day layoff, the Kennesaw State men's basketball team returned to the hardwood against Charlotte on Sunday and turned in one of its best efforts of the season.
For 30 minutes, the Owls (1-8) played even with the 49ers (10-1) but in the end Charlotte pulled away for a 66-52 victory over Kennesaw State at the KSU Convocation Center.
Senior center Andrew Osemhen (Loganville, Ga. / Grayson HS) led the Owls with a career-high 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting while freshman guard Myles Hamilton (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Edward HS) contributed 12 points.
Charlotte, which received balanced scoring throughout its lineup, was led by junior guard DeMario Mayfield who came off the bench to score 14 points and Victor E. Martinez who added 11.
"I thought for about 30 minutes today we played pretty good as a basketball team," Kennesaw State head coach Lewis Preston said. "You're not going to be able to beat a lot of people when you give 64 percent shooting for the game and 68 percent in the second half.
"I told our young guys in the locker room their trial is going to be through fire. This is one of those situations but they need to step up and be men," Preston added. "We weren't able to do that consistently enough, especially in the second half. I have to give Charlotte credit. When you look at their stat line there is a lot of seven, seven, eight, and seven. Outside of Nickerson and Mayfield, who had 11 and 14, they're pretty evenly distributed."
Bench scoring and inside play proved to be the difference in the game as the 49ers outscored the Owls, 40-8, in bench points and 42-26 inside. Charlotte finished the game shooting 64.3 percent (27-for-42) from the field, including 68.4 percent (13-for-19) in the second half.
Kennesaw State led by as many as five points in the first half and was tied 33-33 at halftime. The Owls took a three-point lead at 38-35 on a three-point basket by Hamilton with 17:47 remaining. It marked the last three-pointer of the game by KSU, which made just one of 10 shots from behind the arc in the second half.
Charlotte came back and took the lead for good following a layup by Mayfield that gave the 49ers a 39-38 lead with 15:23 remaining. The Owls kept the score close and trailed 52-50 with 7:35 remaining following a Hamilton layup.
However, Charlotte went on an 11-2 run over the next five minutes to build a comfortable lead at 63-52 following a three-pointer by Mayfield with 2:12 remaining.
"Overall, I saw some positives out there, I'm going to build off of those positives and we're going to keep addressing the not-so-positives out there," Preston said.
Kennesaw State returns to action on Wednesday (Dec. 19) when it opens a stretch of three games in five days against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at Purcell Pavilion and will be televised live on ESPN3.com.
Kennesaw State University