Harris lifts Charlotte past Saint Louis 63-61 - KMOV.com

Harris lifts Charlotte past Saint Louis 63-61

 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- DiJuan Harris' difficult road from walk-on to starting point guard for Charlotte left him with an inner confidence that was on display at the end of overtime on Sunday.

After Saint Louis tied the game on Kyle Cassity's 3-pointer with 16.7 seconds left, Harris looked over to coach Bobby Lutz, who told him not to call a timeout.

"Coach was like, 'Make a play,"' Harris said.

He did. Harris pushed the ball up the floor, used a crossover dribble to create some space, and knocked down a shot just left of the foul line with 3 seconds left. Charlotte beat Saint Louis 63-61 despite not hitting a 3-pointer for the first time since 1989.

The 49ers (12-5, 2-1 Atlantic 10), who surpassed last season's win total, can thank Harris.

"Me being the leader I am, big players step up in big-time moments," the 5-foot-9 senior said. "Whether I made it or missed it, I was willing to take the shot. At the worst, I knew it was going into double overtime."

He hit the shot over Kwamain Mitchell, whose miserable day for Saint Louis (11-6, 2-1) ended when his desperation halfcourt heave was off the mark at the buzzer. Outplayed by Harris, Saint Louis' top scorer was held to 12 points on 2-of-14 shooting and Saint Louis failed in a bid to move to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 1989-90.

"No. 3 appeared to be a nemesis to Kwamain," Billikens coach Rick Majerus said, referring to Harris' uniform number. "Defensively, and he hit that last shot."

Shamari Spears had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the 49ers, who finished 0-for-7 from 3-point range. That ended the nation's ninth longest streak of hitting at least one 3 at 630 games, dating to the 1988-89 season.

Charlotte won that game, too, over Jacksonville.

"I don't know if we'd played a game in my career here where we only attempted seven 3s," Lutz said. "That seems very low. But to our guys' credit, they didn't force them. It was a very tough game at both ends of the floor."

Freshman Jon Smith scored a career-high 15 points for Saint Louis and blocked An'Juan Wilderness' game-winning attempt at the end of regulation.

The Billikens, who don't have a single upperclassman on their roster, have been one of the league's surprises. After winning in double overtime at Duquesne on Wednesday, they staged a comeback from eight points down late in regulation to force OT against Charlotte.

Cassity's 3 gave them another chance, but Saint Louis couldn't overcome 34 percent shooting from the field and eight missed free throws.

"They're good. They've got a nice club," Majerus said of Charlotte. "We hung in there."

The 49ers built a 59-54 lead in overtime on Spears' three-point play and RaShad Coleman's driving layup. But Coleman injured his left knee on the play and hopped to the locker room. He'll undergo an MRI on Monday.

Saint Louis lost reserve Femi John when he aggravated a right knee injury in the first half. He has been trying to play with torn cartilage.

"He's trying to cash checks that his body won't allow," Majerus said. "If they came and told me tomorrow he's done for the year, it wouldn't surprise me."

Lutz coached in a jacket, tie, slacks -- and bare feet. He was raising awareness for a local charity's efforts to distribute shoes to the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

The lack of footwear didn't stop him from celebrating Harris' game-winner.

"I know the scouting report always says to make me go right," Harris said. "I used the crossover to get enough space to make my jump shot."

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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