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Tulsa Tops Coll. Of Charleston

Tulsa coach Bill Self tried to put a positive spin on things after his Golden Hurricane blew most of a 26-point lead in the NCAA tournament's East Regional on Friday night.

Tulsa steadied itself in the final minutes and held on for a 62-53 victory over the College of Charleston, sending the Golden Hurricane to Sunday's second round for a meeting with Duke.

"The last 10 minutes I don't believe was indicative of our team," Self said. "I told our players, `One good thing about playing Duke, I doubt we'll be up by 26 with 14 minutes left."'

By holding off Charleston's rally, the Golden Hurricane ended the Cougars' 25-game winning streak. It was the second-longest run in the country, behind only the 28-game streak of Duke, which rolled to a 41-point victory over Florida A&M earlier Friday night.

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  • "We're going to have to play a near-perfect game," Self said. "We know what we're up against. Duke probably is the most dominant team in the post-Wooden era at UCLA. We have a chance. We have one shot. And that's all you can really ask for."

    The Golden Hurricane (23-9) turned it over on six consecutive possessions, helping fuel a 25-1 run by Charleston that cut the Cougars' deficit to 53-51 with 3:20 left before Tulsa steadied itself.

    "In a game where it wasn't going our way in any manner, we found a way with our pressure defense," said Charleston coach John Kresse, whose Cougars forced 25 turnovers, including 17 in the second half, and converted the miscues into 24 points.

    Tulsa ended the Cougars' rally by making seven of eight foul shots in the last 1:42.

    "It hurts to the bone," Charleston center Jody Lumpkin said. "But it hurts especially with people that you love so much."

    Michael Ruffin, Brandon Kurtz and Tony Heard had 11 points apiece for the Golden Hurricane.

    Southern Conference Player of the Year Sedric ebber went to the bench early with foul trouble, and Charleston (28-3) was unable to recover until the closing minutes, when Webber powered the Cougars' rally.

    Webber, who hit four 3-pointers in the surge, wound up with 15 points, all in the final 8:05.

    Charleston wound up shooting a season-low 29 percent. Webber missed his first six field-goal attempts before making four of his last five.

    "We shouldn't have been in that position at the end," Webber said. "We should have done a better job in the first half."

    The Golden Hurricane outscored Charleston 32-12 in the paint, thanks in large part to Ruffin, a 6-foot-8 senior forward who is Tulsa's career leader in rebounds and blocks. Ruffin also finished the night with 12 rebounds and four blocks, but he went scoreless in the final 12 minutes, helping clear the way for the Cougars to rally.

    "I thought they would make a run," Self said. "I didn't think they would have a chance to close like they did."

    A driving layup by Kurtz gave the Golden Hurricane a 52-26 lead with 9:43 remaining, but Tulsa got just one field goal the rest of the way, a follow shot by Eric Coley that made it 56-51 with 52 seconds left.

    The game was barely three minutes old when Webber picked up his second foul, sending him to the bench with the Cougars trailing by three points. By the time he came back in with 10:30 left in the half, Charleston's deficit had grown to double digits, and the Cougars were unable to cut it below 10 the rest of the way.

    Charleston didn't help itself by going more than eight minutes without a field goal, clearing the way for Tulsa to stretch its lead from three to 17. The Golden Hurricane pushed it to 23 on the way to a 40-19 halftime lead.

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