49ers 'Expose' Bulldogs In 70-64 Win

Bracketed around the evening's main event, the halftime presentation of Mississippi State's new football coach, Bulldog basketball played a game of their own. Not very well, though, as visiting Charlotte took a 70-64 victory in Humphrey Coliseum. "We really got exposed tonight," Coach Rick Stansbury said, not bothering to disguise or diminish his frustrations.

"I don't think I've ever been a part of a game where I thought our team played with the least amount of toughness, the least amount of grit, in my eleven years."

The 49ers improved to 3-6 while Mississippi State suffered the first home loss of the season and fell to 6-3.

Stansbury had a lot of time to stew over the evening's events. Because it wasn't long after tip-off he realized his squad was in trouble. "They hit us in the mouth in the first possession and we never recovered. They out-toughed us offensively, defensively, and we never could change it. I have no answers for why we played like we did."

Numbers alone didn't explain how the game developed as it did. The winning margin was closer than most the contest, as Charlotte held a double-digit advantage all but 13 seconds of the second half. And the differences in shooting (39% to 31%) and rebounding (45-42) favored Charlotte only slightly. But Stansbury summed it up well, as the 49ers of the Atlantic 10 established how things would be played immediately and didn't relax until the end.

"I thought we were stepping up in class in terms of the athletic ability of Mississippi State," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said. "I'm really proud of the way we played for 35 minutes. I'm not happy about how we finished but it was nice to have a good margin. We just had a lot of guys contribute and it was one of our better games."

A couple of late treys by Bulldog PG Dee Bost made the final margin appear more respectable. It did the same for State's outside shooting percentage, too, as between them Bost and 2G Barry Stewart were 3-of-16 from the three-point arc and 6-of-21 overall shooting. And they were still the team's leading scorers with 15 and 10 points respectively.

Not that their frontcourt mates were much more effective. The 49ers swarmed C Jarvis Varnado constantly, harassing him into 3-of-7 shooting and eight points. And while Varnado got a game-best nine rebounds, he blocked just three shots as Charlotte took great care about their attempts around the goal. Backup PF Romero Osby was something of a brighter spot with 10 points off the bench and six boards.

Four 49ers scored in double-digits, led by forward Lamont Mack with a career-best 19 points and eight rebounds. The 6-7 senior didn't just hurt State inside but stepped out to hit a trio of treys. Guard DiJuan Harris had 11 points while guard Rashad Coleman and forward An'Juan Wilderness added ten points each.

"They played like a good basketball team tonight," said Stansbury. "And we didn't. We played like…what we are. That's not acceptable. I have a hard time when you get beat because you get out-toughed."

The Bulldogs have a chance to toughen-up this Saturday, hosting South Alabama. The 7:00 game time allows Humphrey Coliseum to clear-up following the afternoon fall semester graduation ceremonies.

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