CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Lamont Mack scored 15 points and hit two 3-pointers in the decisive second-half run to help Charlotte beat Saint Louis 81-64 on Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak.
Bobby Lutz became the 49ers’ all-time winningest coach with his 183rd win, a balanced effort that roughed up the Atlantic 10’s top defensive team.
An’Juan Wilderness, Charlie Coley, Michael Gerrity all added 14 points for Charlotte (15-11, 6-6) in a rare breather from a season of close games and moved into a four-way tie for sixth in the bunched-up league standings.
Tommie Liddell III scored 18 points for the Billikens (15-12, 6-7), but got little help. Kevin Lisch was held to five points on 2-of-9 shooting as Saint Louis lost for only the second time in five games.
After the Billikens cut an 11-point deficit to 57-55 with 10:15 left, Mack hit two 3s in a 9-0 run. Saint Louis never threatened again and Charlotte got to enjoy only its sixth game this season decided by more than seven points.
Lutz, who improved to 183-123 in 10 seasons, passed Jeff Mullins on the school’s all-time wins list. Lutz was honored at midcourt after the game and thanked the crowd for waiting for the ceremony.
Both teams got off to a blistering shooting start, combining to hit 9 of their first 13 3-point attempts.
Charlotte pulled ahead behind its free-throw shooting, hitting 5 of 6 in a 10-0 run bridging the halves that put the 49ers ahead 46-35.
It was the same margin that Charlotte squandered on Wednesday in an overtime loss to Richmond, and the Billikens made several runs, getting within 57-55 on Luke Meyer’s two free throws with 10:15 left.
But the 49ers were able to pull away by shredding coach Rick Majerus’ vaunted defense. The Billikens came in giving up an Atlantic 10-best 59.8 points per game.
Charlotte shot 50 percent and overcame a second straight quiet night from leading scorer Leemire Goldwire. He scored 11 points, but attempted only eight shots.
The Billikens’ 2-of-12 shooting from 3-point range in the second half slowed their comeback as they dropped to 10th place in the Atlantic 10. Only three games separate the second through 13th place teams. The top 12 teams qualifying for the conference tournament.