Saturday , Jan , 31 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

49ers “86″ Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) – Brendan Plavich scored 17 points to help the
Charlotte 49ers to an 86-83 upset over the eighth-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats
in a Conference USA showdown at Fifth Third Arena.

Curtis Withers scored 15 points and hauled down eight rebounds and Eddie
Basden added 13 and nine for the 49ers (13-5, 5-2), who have won two straight
games. Demon Brown added 13 points and Martin Iti had 11 points and six
rebounds, as Charlotte earned its first-ever win in 10 tries at Cincinnati.

“Charlotte was very well prepared. Bobby Lutz is a good coach and he has good
players. They may have the most talented starting five in the league,”
Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins said.

Kareem Johnson led the way for the Bearcats (15-2, 6-2) with 15 points, and
Tony Bobbitt contributed 14. Jason Maxiell, Nick Williams and Eric Hicks each
chipped in 11 points, but Cincinnati still had its two game winning streak
snapped, and fell for the first time in 12 home games this season.

Withers hit two foul shots after pulling down an offensive rebound with 45
seconds remaining, giving the 49ers an 84-81 edge, and with 36 seconds to go,
Williams threw the ball away to give Charlotte the ball back.

Brown was fouled and went to the line with 21 seconds left, but missed both.
However, the rebound was swatted out and wound up in Plavich’s hands.

Plavich missed the first but hit the second, giving the 49ers an 85-81 lead
with 17 seconds to go. Williams then came down the court and hit a short
jumper in the lane with 10 seconds remaining, pulling the Bearcats within two
at 85-83.

Plavich took the inbound pass and was fouled again, making 1-of-2 to leave
Cincinnati with some life, down just three with seven seconds to play.
However, Williams’ last-second three-point attempt clanged off the front of
the rim to end the contest.

“This is obviously a terrific win for our team because the conference
championship goes through Cincinnati,” Lutz said. “This is the biggest win for
us all year.”

Charlotte is now 2-0 against top-10 teams this year, having beaten then-
seventh-ranked Syracuse earlier in the season. Charlotte moved to 6-3 on the
road this season.

Cincinnati got off to a rough start early on, as a dunk by Iti staked the
49ers to a 12-5 lead 4:17 into the contest. Iti and Charlotte continued to
put the pressure on offensively, and Iti’s layup five minutes later gave
his team a 24-13 edge.

The Bearcats battled back, though, pulling within three points at 29-26 on a
Bobbitt three-pointer with 6:26 left in the half. They got the
Charlotte
lead down to one point with 2:29 to go on a Williams jumper from the lane that
made it 36-35.

However, a C.J. Pigford tip-in with 25 seconds remaining allowed the 49ers to
close out the first half with a 6-2 edge and take a 42-37 lead into the locker
room.

Plavich scored nine points on three three-pointers to lead Charlotte, while
Hicks’ 10 points led all scorers at the break.

Charlotte scored the first basket of the second half to go ahead by seven, but
an 8-0 Cincinnati run gave the Bearcats a 45-44 lead 2:12 into the second
half.

Down 47-46, Charlotte used a 9-1 spurt, culminated by a three-pointer by
Brown, to recapture a seven-point lead at 55-48. But with 11:07 left to play,
a tip-in by Johnson ended a 9-2 run and re-tied the game at 57 apiece.

It was a tight game throughout from that point, featuring six more tie scores.
Charlotte began to make its move toward victory when Iti converted a three-
point play on a dunk with 2:11 remaining, giving the 49ers a 82-79 edge that
they would never relinquish.

Johnson scored on a tip-in with 1:51 to go to pull the Bearcats within one,
and Basden missed a shot at the other end. But Field Williams turned around
and missed a three-point attempt for Cincinnati, giving Charlotte possession
with less than a minute on the clock.

CHARLOTTE CINCINNATI