Henry leads Charlotte past Davidson 73-69

Dec. 06, 2012 @ 02:10 PM

Charlotte's Pierria Henry spent most of his Wednesday night leaving the scoring to others in a heated, tight nonconference game against cross-town rival Davidson.

But with the game on the line at Davidson's packed Belk Arena, Henry first buried a baseline jumper and then hit a pair of free throws in the final 27.5 seconds to key a 73-69 victory for the visiting 49ers. The win improved Charlotte's record to 8-0 for the first time in school history.

"That's probably one of the best basketball games I've ever been a part of," Charlotte coach Alan Major said. "This is why players come to Davidson; this is why players come to Charlotte. This is what makes rivalries rivalries."

Henry's final four points broke what had been a tie at 69 following a layup by Davidson's De'Mon Brooks with just under one minute left to play as both teams spent the second half grappling for the upper hand. The score was tied 10 times in the second half, and neither team ever led by more than four points.

Chris Braswell led Charlotte with 15 points as the 49ers, but it was Henry's overall play — even before the very end — that made the biggest difference. He added eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in 31 minutes in addition to his 11 points, six of which came in the final 1:13 as the 49ers finally wrestled control of the game away from the Wildcats.

"He just exhibited a lot of toughness and a lot of poise," Major said of Henry. "I can't tell you as a coach how much that means to have a player like that out there. . It's neat seeing guys grow up right in front of your eyes."

Henry's final two free throws came with 10.5 seconds left and sealed the win.

"I felt like I just had to keep playing my game," Henry said. "I just felt real confident that I would make that last shot, and I made it. I put a lot of time in (on free-throw shooting). Chris had made two right before me and I had to hold my end up and make mine, too."

Davidson (4-4) was led Jake Cohen with 15 points, Brooks with 13 and Nik Cochran with 12. All but one of Cohen's points came in the second half.

Cohen, who entered the game as Davidson's second-leading scorer with an average of 11.3 points per game, was held without a field goal for nearly the first 26 minutes of game. But when he connected for a three-point play with 14:04 remaining, he ended a 9-0 Charlotte run and pulled the Wildcats to within 44-40.

Cohen went on to score the next seven points for Davidson, then assisted on a sweet pass inside to Tom Droney for a layup and the game suddenly was tied at 46. It was tight the rest of the way.

Braswell, battling foul trouble much of the second half, gave Charlotte a 67-65 lead when he buried a 3-pointer with 2:18 left. But he left the late-game heroics to Henry, who also broke a tie at 67 with a pair of free throws before he hit the jumper that gave the 49ers the lead for good.

Droney, who entered the game shooting 2 for 15 (.133) on the season and 1 for 8 on 3-pointers while averaging 1.6 points, sank back-to-back 3s to break a 23-23 tie in the first half. He ended up with 12 first-half points as the Wildcats took a 33-29 lead into intermission.

Darion Clark added 14 points and nine rebounds for Charlotte and Willie Clayton chipped in 12 points. Major singled out the way Clayton outfought four Wildcats at one point for an offensive rebound in the second half as symbolic of how his team played with better effort after halftime. The coach also praised a hustle play where Henry dove on the floor to secure a loose ball.

"It was just a great team win for us," Major said. "We talked about at halftime how we were going to have to ramp up our toughness. . I felt like they were tougher in the first half.

"But that rebound where he went against four guys and then the loose-ball dive that Pierria had to get us the ball back, those were epic plays. Those were winning plays, and I felt those two plays in particular gave us energy."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.