ST. LOUIS ­- Charlotte's Donnie Smith scored early in the second half, and the 49ers held on to defeat Saint Louis 1-0 Friday night in a battle of nationally ranked Atlantic 10 Conference teams at Robert R. Hermann Stadium.

The loss dropped the Billikens (11-4, 5-2 A-10), ranked 20th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire poll, into third place in the conference standings. Charlotte (11-2-3, 5-1-1 A-10), ranked 22nd by the NSCAA, moved into a first-place tie with VCU.

Smith's goal, his fourth of the season, came at the 47:20 mark. He collected a loose ball that was deflected by a Saint Louis defender and fired a nine-yard shot from directly in front of the net that found the target.

The Billikens had a chance to go on top in the sixth minute when they were awarded a penalty kick following a Charlotte hand ball in the box. But the shot hit the post and caromed out of reach for a possible rebound attempt.

SLU created another solid opportunity to score in the 83rd minute. A shot by Marco Heskamp was turned away by Charlotte keeper Klay Davis, and Michael Robson's attempt on the rebound struck the post. David Graydon was able to launch a shot just seconds later, but the attempt went wide.

Graydon and Alex Sweetin had a game-high four shots apiece for the Bills, who out-shot the 49ers 14-7. SLU keeper Nick Shackelfordmade three saves, while Davis registered six stops.

"It was tough, Charlotte is not an easy opponent," head coach Mike McGinty said. "I thought we played hard, but we didn't have enough quality. We did everything we could. A lot of our mistakes were things Charlotte forced us into. Credit them, they're a very good team. We just have to be a little sharper."

The Billikens host George Washington Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m.