The Charlotte 49ers completed their three-game sweep of Canadian universities on Monday night, defeating the Victoria Vikes 92-73 at CARSA on the strength of 19 points from Braxton Ogbueze.
The result was the third victory in a row for the 49ers, who beat UBC 89-71 last Thursday and Trinity Western 95-58 on Friday.
Ogbeuze was the 49ers top scorer last year, averaging 14.5 points per game, and he looked sharp on Monday. For a team with a fair amount of turnover, the 49ers were able to rely on their seniors to carry them for large periods, with Ogbeuze and fellow senior Anthony Vanhook, who added 14 points, setting the tone.
While Charlotte relied on familiar faces, the same couldn’t be said for the Vikes in their first exhibition game of the 2016-17 season. A pair of newcomers in Wayne Tucker Jr. and Scott Kellum led the way with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
“You could tell in the first five minute we were like ‘woah, who’s on first, who’s on second’ so to speak,” said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. “And then we started to get a little bit more flow in the second half. I was pretty happy overall. Not to overstate it, any time you lose… but there’s a lot of positives to build off of.”
Tucker had 11 of his 15 points in the second half, which saw the Vikes push the pace of play and come within 10 points of the 49ers at times. But 17 turnovers by the Vikes, forced by strong Charlotte defence, helped seal their fate in the loss.
Still, there were a lot of positives for the Vikes, especially for a game in August. For one thing, they finished with 25 defensive rebounds to Charlotte’s 24 and outrebounded the 49ers in the first half by a total of 23-18.
Add on Tucker Jr.’s 50% shooting from the field and Kellum going five-for-nine on the night and there’s a lot to take away going forward.
“I think quietly I’m very optimistic—let’s put it that way,” said Beaucamp.
The game started with some even play but by the end of the first half Charlotte had opened up a big lead at 45-30. Lithuanian Benas Griciunas had 11 of those points for the 49ers, with Ogbueze coming in close behind with nine.
The Vikes struggled in the second quarter, going just four-for-14 from the field. But they would turn it around in the second half, shooting 53.3% and 60% in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.
Monday night’s game was a learning experience for the Vikes, who won’t be back on the court for an official game until late September when the Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament kicks off.
CHAR: 24-21-23-24 : 92
VIC: 17-13-21-22 : 73
CHAR: Braxton Ogbueze (19), Anthony Vanhook (14), JC Washington (13)
UVIC: Wayne Tucker Jr. (15), Scott Kellum (14), Justin Kinnear (12)