The Charlotte 49ers defeated the C-USA regular-season champs North Texas, 56-43 behind a monstrous defensive effort on the way to a record-breaking 13th win at home, the most in Halton Arena history.
Charlotte’s record-breaking victory against the Mean Green brought back memories of past seasons in which the 49ers’ were nearly unbeatable on its home court.
Dale F. Halton Arena opened on December 2nd of 1996 when the 49ers beat Appalachian State 75-63 in the building’s highly anticipated inaugural matchup. The 49ers, then coached by Melvin Watkins, would go on to post a 22-9 record overall with 10 wins in front of the 49er faithful.
Charlotte has boasted 12 home wins three times in Halton Arena’s 23-year history, with the first two coming in the mid-2000s under Bobby Lutz and the last under Alan Major in 2013.
In 2005, Lutz orchestrated the 49ers best record in terms of win percentage since their Final Four appearance in 1977, finishing 21-8 overall with a 12-2 record at home. Charlotte dropped two of their first three in Halton, including a dramatic triple-overtime loss against Alabama before rattling off 10 consecutive home victories to close conference play. Curtis Withers and Eddie Basden spearheaded the Charlotte unit averaging a combined 33 points and 16 rebounds in their respective junior and senior seasons.
Lamont Mack and Leemire Goldwire led the Niners to 13 wins in the Queen City during the 2008 season, 12 of which came in Halton, with the final in the baker’s dozen coming in Spectrum Center, then known as Bobcats Arena.
Bobby Lutz finished his 12-year tenure as head coach with 126 victories in Halton. Alan Major took the reigns as head coach in 2010 and would become the second coach to secure 12 victories in Halton during the 2013 season.
In just his second season with the program, Ron Sanchez established a new Gold Standard, breaking the previous record of 12 wins at home. While the win over North Texas signifies a milestone in Halton, it also solidifies the 49ers’ positioning in the C-USA tournament. With the win, Charlotte had secured a first-round bye in Frisco, where they would be making their first appearance in three seasons. The COVID-19 outbreak has caused cancellations across all of collegiate athletics and ended the season immediately.
Following a 15-point home loss to Florida International just three days before, the 49ers’ resilience and stifling defensive mentality staked their claim for the record-breaking victory in the penultimate game of the regular season. After limping to an 8-21 record in 2019, the Charlotte 49ers, currently 16-12 overall, and 13-2 at home, have secured their first winning season since 2013-14.
These 49ers were picked to finish 12th in C-USA in the preseason, and with Wednesday’s victory, have won their 10th C-USA game, marking the first time the 49ers have won double-digit conference games since winning 11 during the 2006 season in the Atlantic 10.
“It’s just something about that Halton magic,” Jordan Shepard said after leading the 49ers with 18 points on his birthday. “After last game, we wanted to come in and try to prove that we were one of the best teams (in the conference).”
“My four years and even those before me were great times in Halton,” said the 2005 C-USA Player of the year, Eddie Basden. “From being ranked in the top 25 to knocking off some of the top teams, all with the support of the fans.”
“Congratulations to Coach Sanchez and the team on a great season to date,” said Bobby Lutz, the winningest head coach in 49ers’ history. “Halton will always be a special place for me full of wonderful memories, especially the students.”