Charlotte Pulls Away From Southern Miss In The Second Half Ousting The Golden Eagles


_ Rodney White scored 22 points and Charlotte advanced to the Conference USA tournament championship for the fourth time in five years with a 75-63 win over Southern Mississippi Friday night at Freedom Hall.

Diego Guevara added 19 for the third-seeded 49ers

, who won for the eighth time in nine games and beat the Golden Eagles for the ninth consecutive time. David Wall scored 18 and Vandarel Jones and Mel Cauthen added 12 points each for second-seeded Southern Miss
, which dropped to 1-4 in its last five games in the league tournament.

The Golden Eagles went 7-of-28 from 3-point range

(25 percent)
and got outrebounded 41-29. The 49ers started fast, sinking six of their first seven shots, but then missed seven of their next eight. Southern Miss erased a 17-11 deficit with a 12-1 run that Wall finished with a corner 3-pointer with 8:09 left in the first half.

Charlotte answered with an 11-2 run and took a 29-25 lead on White's baseline jumper with 4:48 left before halftime. Charlotte's lead hovered between three and six until a 14-3 Southern Miss run early in the second half. The 49ers missed eight of their first nine shots out of halftime and Elvin Mims' 3-pointer with 13:46 left gave the Eagles their biggest lead to that point at 46-39.

A pair of 3-pointers by Guevara trimmed Charlotte's deficit to two and his two free throws with 10:43 remaining tied the game at 47-47. Mario Myles' basket with 10:24 left gave Southern Miss its last lead at 49-47. The Eagles went the next five minutes without a field goal during a 12-1 Charlotte run.

Myles' 3-pointer with 5:26 left ended the Eagles' field-goal drought and cut the 49ers' lead to 62-53. White answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the key 10 seconds later and the Eagles got no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Charlotte has won eight of its last nine Conference USA tournament games and five straight games at Freedom Hall.

(Copyright 2001 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)