Winthrop and Charlotte, two teams that haven't been shooting well, met in Halton Arena on Saturday night, and not surprisingly, the team that shot the best won.
Or it may have been the team that didn't defend well enough lost.
The 49ers, who hadn't shot better than 40 percent for seven games, shot 48.9 percent and hit 11 of 26 3-pointers and pulled away from the Eagles to win, 70-53. They shot many of the same shots they'd been firing up without success during that stretch.
But this time, they went in.
"I'm concerned when we lose games because we can't defend," Winthrop coach Randy Peele said. "It frustrates me when I see a drop in our tenacity. I hate when I see that, and I saw a drop tonight."
The Eagles played without defensive stopper Mantoris Robinson who is nursing a bad back. With three key Big South Conference games next week, Peele elected to sit him out.
"He maybe could have played," Peele said, "but I don't know how effective he would have been. I made the conservative decision, but I think the right decision."
The Eagles could have used Robinson to slow down Lamont Mack, who finished with 18 points, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers. Peele said Robinson would have had that assignment, because Mack is the one 49er who can score inside and out.
Mack scored mostly from "out" but so did Ian Anderson, who had 19 points, hitting half of his 10 3-point attempts.
"We gave up threes that weren't contested enough," Peele said. "We didn't get enough pressure on them."
And what those two didn't do, 5-9 point guard DiJuan Harris did, scoring 14 points and handing out 10 assists. He hit 5 of 8 field goals.
The Eagles, meanwhile, misfired from the perimeter, after a fast start, shooting 36 percent. Of their 50 field goal attempts, 23 came from behind the arc. They made seven 3-pointers, but five of those came on their first five shots of the game when they jumped to an early lead.
The 49ers made the defensive change that mattered and was expected.
With just over six minutes gone in the game, Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz had seen enough of his man-to-man defense. The Eagles' first four field goals were all 3-pointers, all wide open, and the Eagles went up 13-5. Lutz went 2-3 zone.
The Eagles got a couple more field goals, including their fifth consecutive 3-pointer, and with 8:45 to go in the half the game was knotted at 19.
"They came out hot," Lutz said. "We've joked that we've kind of created that for other teams this year. But after that start, I was pleased with our defense. We switched it up."
In the final 8:20, the Charlotte zone worked its magic, if you could call backing inside the 3-point line and clogging the middle magic. Whatever, the Eagles went 2-for-10 from the field and turned the ball over four times. The 49ers, hitting a few shots and getting to the free-throw line eight times, outscored the Eagles 16-4 to take a 35-23 lead before Andre Jones hit a 3-pointer to make it 35-26 at the half.
The game changed dramatically for Winthrop when Andre Jones, Charles Corbin and Reggie Middleton all picked up their second foul.
Middleton's actually turned into his third foul with 1:04 left in the half. Whistled for a foul on Harris near the top of the key, he protested more than official Brent Hampton liked and Hampton buzzed him with a technical that turned into his third personal.
It also gave the 49ers four free throws which they converted into a 35-23 lead.
"At that point," Peele said, "the momentum of the game changed. After the technical, Reggie played frustrated. But I told him I'm not going to put up with it. He's got to do a better job of keeping his composure."
It was Middleton's second technical in the past three games. He finished with 10 points.
The Eagles made one small run, scoring the first six points of the second half to cut the lead to 35-32 and force a 49er timeout. The 49ers responded with scores on their next four possessions -- an ally-oop behind the Eagles' zone, a Harris drive and three-point play, a 3-pointer from Anderson and drive from 18 feet by Charlie Coley.
"When we cut it to three," Peele said, "the defense had too many lapses."
The lead would climb to as many as 19 as the Eagles continued to struggle from the field, while the 5-9 Harris controlled the flow for Charlotte.
Despite it being a nonconference game in the middle of a very important Big South Conference stretch, freshman Andre Jones, who led the Eagles with 13 points, said they went at the game the same way.
"Just the same," he said. "We practiced just as hard and prepared."
He also said the Eagles missed Robinson on two fronts.
"The biggest thing was leadership," Jones said, "especially on defense. He leads on defense."
Middleton hopes the result has a positive effect heading into Monday night's home game with Radford, plus conference games with VMI and Liberty later in the week.
"It could have a big effect," he said. "We've got to go to practice with the mindset we've got to play defense. They got out and ran on us tonight, and that's what Radford and VMI did on us the first time we played."