LAKELAND, FLA., DEC. 28 -- Junior guard Byron Dinkins scored 19 points to lead the University of North Carolina-Charlotte to an 89-73 victory over Howard University tonight in the first round of the Florida Invitational.

Florida Southern beat Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the second game, 92-74, and will meet UNC-Charlotte in the final.

UNC-Charlotte (7-1) led from start to finish. With 11:52 left in the first half, Jeff West's three-point shot capped an 11-1 run that gave the 49ers an 18-7 advantage.

Howard shot 43.2 percent from the floor before intermission, but turned the ball over 13 times and trailed, 42-27. Dinkins scored 13 of his game-high points in the first half.

In addition to Dinkins' scoring, the 49ers also got 11 points each from Cedric Ball, Dan Plondke and Reggie Barnes. Howard was led by George Hamilton (22 points) and Tyrone Powell (19).

Powell pulled down a game-high nine rebounds to give the Bison a 45-36 rebounding advantage.HOWARD Min FG FT R A PF T Gholson 20 1-9 1-3 7 0 3 3 J. Spencer 34 0-8 0-5 8 0 3 0 Smith 5 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 Smalley 14 0-0 1-2 1 1 2 1 Hamilton 36 9-16 4-7 7 2 3 22

Halftime: UNC-Charlotte, 42-27.

Three-point goals: Howard 2-7 (Gholson 0-2, Hamilton 0-1, Green 1-2, Holloman 1-2); UNC -- Charlotte 2-15 (

Technical fouls: Owens, Howard.

A -- 244.