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NCAA Tournament Recap (Tulsa-Coll Of Charltn)

Posted: Sat March 13, 1999 at 1:59 a.m EST

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Ninth-seeded Tulsa built a 21-point halftime lead and then held off a furious rally by No. 8 College of Charleston to earn a 62-53 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the South Region.

The Golden Hurricane (23-9) led 40-19 at the break and appeared set to coast through the second half. But the College of Charleston used a 25-1 run over a 6:10 span late in the game to close to 53-51 with just over three minutes to play and twice failed to score with a chance to tie.

Tulsa freshman Greg Harrington hit the second of two free throws with 1:42 left to make it a 3-point game, and the Cougars' chances were severely hampered moments later when Danny Johnson missed a 3-pointer. Eric Coley's follow shot with 51 seconds left gave Tulsa a 56-51 lead and control of the game.

"This was an unbelievable game," said Tulsa coach Bill Self. "The first half was probably as good as we can play. A lot of the comeback was them. The big thing is we got passive and fell apart. It's good that we were up 26 and not 18. I thought that they'd make a run, but I didn't expect 25-1."

Michael Ruffin had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Golden Hurricane, whose reward for the victory is a meeting in the second round with Duke on Sunday. The Blue Devils routed Florida A&M, 99-58, tonight.

"I think we can beat Duke," said Self with an eye on the second-round matchup. "We need a near-perfect game. Duke is probably the most dominant team in college basketball."

Sedric Webber scored 15 points for College of Charleston (28-3), which was appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time this decade. The Cougars, seeded 12th, upset Maryland in 1997 for their only victory in the field of 64.

"We played against a very well-coached Tulsa team," Cougars coach John Kresse said. "They were very impressive on defense. They pushed us away from the basket and when we got inside looks, they either blocked the shots or altered them."

College of Charleston had its 25-game winning streak snapped, falling for the first time since December 4 against South Carolina.

"It hurts to lose," Webber said. "It especially hurts to know that I'm not going to play with the seniors again. Hopefully, they don't remember this game and not the season."

The Golden Hurricane scored the first four points of the second half on baskets by Brandon Kurtz and Marcus Hill to go up 44-19 with 17:40 remaining. They eventually built their their to 26 points when Kurtz's layup made it 52-26 with 9:43 remaining.

But Johnson drove for a layup and Jermel President and Webber hit consecutive 3-pointers and suddenly the Cougars were down 18 points and had momentum. Hill answered Carl Thomas' free throw with one of his own at the 6:21 mark, but it would be Tulsa's last points for over 4 1/2 minutes as the Cougars stormed back, led by Webber.

"We had them down 26 and we started playing not to lose and Webber started hitting some shots," Self added.

Webber hit a 3-pointer, proceeded to go 3-of-4 from the foul line and then drained consecutive 3-pointers to bring the Cougars within 53-47 with 3:42 to play. President followed with a layup and hit two free throws with 3:20 left to make it a two-point game for the first time since the 16:59 mark of the first half.

Coley's follow put the Golden Hurricane up by four points and Ruffin blocked President on the other end. Coley hit two free throws to make it 58-51, but Kurtz inexplicably fouled President while he was taking a 3-pointer.

President went 2-of-3 from the line to make it a five-point contest, but Harrington hit four foul shots in the final 20 seconds as Tulsa hung on.

"We just wanted to go out and win, but in the last 10 minutes, we got passive," said Coley. "It wasn't pretty out there, but we got to the next round."

Kurt and Tony Heard netted 11 points apiece and Hill contributed 10 points for Tulsa, which shot 43 percent (22-of-51) and was 5-of-15 from 3-point range. Coley had 10 rebounds for the Golden Hurricane, who held a 40-36 advantage on the boards but committed 25 turnovers, leading to 25 Cougar points.

President scored 14 points and Johnson 13 for the Cougars, who connected on a meager 28 percent (15-of-52) of their field goals but were 6-of-18 from beyond the arc. College of Charleston committed 20 turnovers that led to 23 points for Tulsa.

A layup by Jody Lumpkin with 15:30 left in the first half brought the Cougars within 10-7, but Tulsa scored the next 11 points to open a 21-7 lead on Kurtz's layup with 9 1/2 minutes left before halftime. After a free throw but Lumpkin, the Golden Hurricane quickly built an 18-point lead on a jumper by Heard and Kurtz' 3-pointer.

"Early in the game, we just couldn't hit some open shots and made some turnovers that they made into shots," President said. "We really fought back."

The Cougars battled within 28-13 on a free throw by President, but Tulsa scored 12 of the next 16 points to build a 40-17 lead on Shawn Williams' driving layup with 1:30 left in the half. Johnson connected on both ends of a 1-and-1 for College of Charleston to account for the halftime margin.

"We had a great all-around first half and everybody was doing their job," Ruffin said. "In their comeback, they were aggressive in the passing lanes, but in the end, we got it right. At the beginning, they didn't match our intensity and we were getting all the loose balls."

© 2000 Sportsticker Enterprises, LP

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