CHARLESTON, S.C. — Charlotte coach Alan Major didn’t know what to say after his team’s latest tournament win.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Major said.
That was understandable after watching his team blow a 17-point in the final 12 minutes of regulation, seeing three experienced starters foul out before the end yet prevailing in double overtime over Penn State, 106-97, Thursday at the Charleston Classic.
Braxton Ogbueke scored 10 of his career-high 26 points in the extra sessions, and Mike Thorne had 23 points and 16 rebounds for the 49ers (2-0), who won their seventh straight regular-season tournament game. Charlotte took the Great Alaska Shootout two years ago and the Puerto Rico Tip-Off event last fall.
“This was is all about T-E-A-M,” Major said. “We probably faced every situation you could out there.”
One of the biggest came at the end of the first overtime when Penn State guard D.J. Newbill looked like he had a clear lane to the basket with the game tied at 90-90 and the clock winding down.
Instead, sophomore Cameron Blakley blocked Newbill’s shot, leading to the second overtime.
That’s when Ogbueze, the Florida transfer, took over. He opened the period with a basket then hit a jumper after Shep Garner’s driving layup drew Penn State (2-1) to 99-97.
The loss overshadowed Newbill’s career high 35 points, the most scored by a Penn State player since Pete Lisicky did that against Penn in 1995.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers thought Newbill would make the shot in the first overtime to finally prevail. When it didn’t go, Chambers knew his team was in trouble.
“Going into the second overtime, I could see the guys were a little winded,” he said.
This one looked like a runaway with Charlotte up 63-46 with 11:46 left in regulation. But Penn State used a 37-20 run to the buzzer and tied the game on John Johnson’s 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left.
Ogbueze got the 49ers going in the second extra session. Thorne added two foul shots and a jam, and Charlotte was up 97-93.
The Nittany Lions closed it to two points on Garner’s driving bucket, but Ogbueze answered again for Charlotte. Penn State could get no closer.
Ogbueze finished 7 of 11 from the field and made all 11 of his foul shots.
Ogbueze said the team was prepared for all situations and did not hang their heads when Penn State rallied.
“We’ve been working on this all offseason,” he said. “We’re resilient.”
Charlotte prevailed despite having starters Terrence Williams, Willie Clayton and Pierria Henry foul out in regulation.