Thursday , Nov , 27 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

Orange crush: Defending champs lose opener

Syracuse, NY (Sports Network) – Brendan Plavich scored 31 points to lead the
Charlotte 49ers to a 96-92 victory over the defending national champion and
seventh-ranked Syracuse Orangemen at the Carrier Dome. Plavich finished 10-
of-17 from the floor and 1-of-2 from the free throw line. He did not attempt a
two-point field goal.

Curtis Withers and Eddie Basden contributed 16 points each for the 49ers
(2-1).

Gerry McNamara scored a game-high 34 points for the Orangemen (0-1), who
opened the season with a loss just as they did in their championship run last
year. McNamara finished 11-of-19 from the field, including 8-of-14 from beyond
the arc.

Plavich shot a blistering 7-for-9 from three-point range in the first half as
the 49ers went to the locker room with a 21-point lead.

Plavich’s second trey in the early going pulled the 49ers within two, 10-8,
and his third put Charlotte on top, 13-11, five minutes into the contest. A
three-pointer by Chris Sager increased the advantage to 18-13 with nine
minutes played in the opening half.

Leading 31-21 after a basket by Withers, the 49ers stretched their lead with
an 11-1 run. Plavich added a pair from beyond the arc and Charlotte led,
42-22, with less than five minutes to play in the first half.

C.J. Pigford went 1-of-2 from the line in the closing seconds to give the
49ers a 50-29 lead at the break.

The 49ers hit 17-of-30 shots (57%) in the opening half, while the Orangemen
struggled to make 12-of-34 shots (35%).

The Charlotte lead grew to 64-41 after a three-pointer by Sager early in the
second half, but the Orangemen would not quit.

A 14-5 spurt by Syracuse cut the 49ers’ lead to 69-55 after a three-pointer by
McNamara capped the run. Back-to-back treys by McNamara pulled the Orangemen
within 11 at 86-77 with under five minutes to play.

A three-point play by Jeremy McNeil made it 89-82 with 2:04 left on the clock.

Hakim Warrick, who finished with 20 points, scored to bring Syracuse within
five, 91-86, with under a minute to play and McNamara buried a three-pointer
with 20 seconds left to cut the 49ers’ lead to 93-90.

Eddie Basden, however, hit three free throws for Charlotte in the closing
seconds to preserve the victory.

Charlotte, which is 1-3 in games against defending national champions, edged
out to a 2-1 lead in the all-time series with Syracuse. The other victory came
during the 49ers’ run to the Final Four in 1977.

CHARLOTTE SYRACUSE