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Updated: Sunday, March 6, 2005 12:37 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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South Florida 85, (18) Charlotte 73

TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Terrance Leather and Brian Swift sent Charlotte limping into the Conference USA Tournament.

Leather scored 24 points and Swift added 19 as South Florida posted its first win over a ranked opponent in seven years with an 85-73 victory over No. 18 Charlotte.

Charlotte would have had a chance to capture the regular season crown, but ninth-ranked Louisville's triumph over DePaul earlier Saturday cemented the 49ers as the second seed in the conference tournament.

Losers of five of their previous six games, the Bulls had not beaten a top-25 opponent since a 70-68 victory over Florida State in January 1998.

South Florida will be the 11th-seed in the tournament, which begins Wednesday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

Charlotte jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but Leather and Swift scored nine during an 11-2 burst to get the Bulls back into the game. South Florida took an 18-15 lead with 11:11 left on a 3-pointer by Marius Prekevicius and were not headed thereafter.

On another 3-pointer by Prekevicius and seven points by James Holmes, the Bulls (12-15, 5-11 C-USA) closed the half on a 9-2 run for a 41-28 halftime advantage.

South Florida led by as many as 17 early in the second half but the 49ers rallied midway through with three consecutive 3-pointers by Brendan Plavich, who scored 20, which got Charlotte (21-6, 12-4) to 64-59 with 9:20 remaining.

But Leather, who also grabbed 12 boards, Swift and Melvin Bryant combined to shoot 12-of-14 from the line in the final six minutes for the Bulls.


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