Terrence Leather played the game of his life, and Brian Swift made sure it came in a win.
With the Bulls up by two with seven seconds left, Swift hit two free throws to seal a 69-64 win over favored Houston in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament on Wednesday in Memphis.
The Bulls (13-15, 6-11 C-USA) now face No. 20 Cincinnati tonight at 9:30 in the quarterfinals.
With the win, the Bulls shoved logic, common sense and history aside and beat Houston for the first time in five tries.
Leather finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds in 39 minutes played. With the score tied at 64 with 40 seconds left, Leather dropped in a lay-up to put the Bulls up for good.
Swift finished with 17 points and five assists and never exited the game.
Houston (18-13, 9-8 C-USA) had defeated USF twice this season by a combined margin of 30 points.
On paper, the Bulls had no shot.
On the court, however, it was a different story.
Using a 13-0 run in the first half, the Bulls led 22-9 before allowing Houston to claw back. USF trailed 34-33 at the half.
The Cougars built a 10-point lead early in the second half and seemed ready to put the Bulls away for good.
But the Bulls, triggered by a feisty Marlyn Bryant, went on a 14-0 run and led 53-49 with 7:35 left. Bryant scored the final four points of the run, making two free throws and dunking on a fast break following a steal.
Bryant finished with 10 points, hitting 6-of-8 free throws.
USF shot 47.7 percent for the game and was red hot in the second half, hitting on 59.1 percent.
The Cougars, meanwhile, shot 27.3 percent from the floor in the second half and finished 33.3 percent for the game.
Houston guard Lanny Smith led his team with 21 points and teammate Andre Owens finished with 17.
No. 2–seeded Cincinnati comes into tonight’s quarterfinals on a six-game winning streak. The Bearcats (24-6, 12-4 C-USA) defeated USF 74-48 on Jan. 27 in the Sun Dome.