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Bucs' backs against the wall in scramble for berths

Wire report with staff contributions

TAMPA — South Florida gained a leg up on East Carolina in the jousting for Conference USA Tournament slots as Terrence Leather scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Bulls to a 60-50 victory over the Pirates Saturday night.

Brian Swift added 17 points for USF (11-13, 4-9 Conference USA), which took sole possession of 11th place in the league, good enough to qualify for a spot in the conference tournament if the Bulls' place in the pecking order stands over the final week and half of the regular season.

Combined with their Wednesday upset of UAB, the loss left the Pirates with a split in their two-game road swing and dangling in 13th place in the 14-team league's standings. Only the top 12 finishers gain spots in the conference tournament.

Marlyn Bryant added 13 points and 11 rebounds to help the Bulls move a game ahead of the Pirates in the league race.

Bryant gave South Florida its biggest lead at 49-36 with a jumper with 7 minutes left, but East Carolina answered with a 12-4 run to cut the deficit to five. However, the Pirates managed just two more points as the Bulls pulled away.

Mike Cook scored 11 and Corey Rouse finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds to lead ECU (8-17, 3-10), which has won only once in 11 road games.

Leather had 12 points and six rebounds in a first half that included six lead changes and ended with the Bulls leading 28-24.

Two of ECU's remaining three games are against teams that are also hovering around the fringe of tournament eligibility.

ECU returns home to face last-place Southern Miss (10-15, 1-12) on Wednesday, Feb. 23, and will close out its regular season slate at 12th-place Tulane (9-14, 3-9) on Saturday, Mar. 5.

In between those contests, the Pirates will host 6th-place Houston ( 17-10, 8-5) on Saturday, Feb. 26.

The conference tournament will be conducted Mar. 9-12 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.


South Florida 60, East Carolina 50

Records: ECU 8-17, 3-10; USF 11-13, 4-9.
Halftime: USF 28-24.

Name           FG      FT   Pts
Rouse        5-11     1-6    11
Badiane       2-6     5-6     9
Kilgore       1-4     0-0     2
Hammonds      1-7     0-0     2
Cook         3-12     5-6    11
McNeil        2-9     3-4     7
Gagnon        0-0     0-0     0
King          1-3     0-0     3
Hart          0-0     0-0     0
Castro        2-3     1-2     5
Totals      17-55   15-24    50

Name           FG      FT   Pts
Bryant        4-8     5-8    13
Leather      8-18     7-8    23
Jones         2-6     1-3     5
Swift        7-14     2-2    17
Dennis        0-2     2-2     2
Brigman       0-1     0-0     0
Prekevicius   0-1     0-0     0
Holmes        0-1     0-0     0
Diarra        0-0     0-0     0
Totals      21-51   17-23    60

3-Point goals: East Carolina 1-10 (King 1-3, Kilgore 0-1, Hammonds Jr. 0-3, McNeil 0-3); South Florida 1-6 (Swift 1-2, Dennis 0-1, Holmes 0-1, Leather 0-1, Prekevicius 0-1).

Fouled out: Rouse.

Rebounds: East Carolina 38 (Rouse 11); South Florida 42 (Leather 14).

Assists: East Carolina 8 (McNeil 5); South Florida 10 (Swift 6).

Total fouls: East Carolina 21, South Florida 21.

Technical fouls: Leather.

Attendance: 4,029.

02/23/07 10:56 AM

©2005 The Associated Press and All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. contributed to this report.


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