Charlotte 68, Charleston Southern 58
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)
Charlotte coach Alan Major announced before the game that senior forward Chris Braswell has been suspended for one game and junior guard DeMario Mayfield for two games for violating team rules. Major did not specify what team rules were broken.
Williams took on the scoring load with 17 of his points coming in the second half, including seven straight during a crucial stretch in which the 49ers pushed their lead back to 15 after Charleston Southern made a run to cut it to seven.
Pierria Henry added 10 points and five steals for the 49ers, while E. Victor Nickerson had 11 points and five rebounds.
Saah Nimley led the Buccaneers with 20 points and Arion Harper added 12 points off the bench.
The 49ers clearly missed Braswell and Mayfield.
Braswell, the team's most talented player, averaged 15.8 points per game and 7.6 rebounds, while Mayfield averaged 11.2 points and seven rebounds.
Charlotte trailed by three early in the second half before Williams and Henry ignited a 22-4 run, giving the 49ers their largest lead at 15.
The Bucs would trim the lead to seven before Williams put back a pair of offensive rebounds, converting the second for a three-point play. Williams then added a fastbreak layup to push Charlotte's lead to 59-45 and Henry drove to the basket to make it 61-45.
Henry had three steals in the second half, two of those leading to layups on the other end.
Williams' previous career-high was eight points last year against George Washington, but he looked like a seasoned veteran Friday night. He hustled and crashed the boards, particularly on the offensive end where he had five rebounds.
Darion Clark chipped in with 11 rebounds and six points for the 49ers.
Charleston Southern trailed by just a point at halftime despite enduring a horrible scoring drought.
The Bucs built an early 15-8 lead but then went more than 10 minutes without scoring a point and that turned the tide. The 49ers were able to gain the lead during that span behind a 3-point by Denzel Ingram, but couldn't pull away after struggling from the foul line and failing to finish near the rim.
Neither team shot well in the first half with Charlotte converting 32 percent and Charleston Southern just 23.5 percent.
The Bucs didn't improve much in the second half, shooting 29 percent for the game while turning the ball over 17 times.
Charlotte won despite struggled from the free throw line where they converted only 19 of 33.