LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Needing a win to stay in the hunt for a bye in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Alzee Williams and Tony Mitchell delivered for the Mean Green in a 75-67 overtime win at West division leader UALR.
Williams hit six free throws in the final 17 seconds of overtime to clinch North Texas’ (15-11, 8-5 SBC) win and first-round bye. The sophomore scored a game-high 25 points and Tony Mitchell led the rebounding efforts with 13 points and 16 boards.
With NT nursing a three point lead with 1:25 remaining in regulation, UALR’s (14-14, 11-3 SBC) Chuck Guy hit a layup and a foul to tie the game. Williams had the last look in regulation, but his 3-pointer rimmed out with a second on the clock.
Williams made the most of his next look at the bucket to give NT an early lead in the overtime period, and Tyler Hall connected on a layup moments later to give the Mean Green a four-point lead.
Brandan Walton’s slash to the bucket with 1:25 in the frame gave him a wide-open layup and the Mean Green an insurmountable three-point lead at 67-64. Walton was simply on fire from 3-point ,knocking down three straight 3-point attempts in the first half, and four overall in the game, for 16 points.
An unusual suspect helped NT stay in the game late in the first half with his first career 3-pointer. Forrest Robinson splashed home a straight-on 3-pointer from 20 feet to cut UALR’s lead to 34-30.
The Trojans made NT pay from the free throw line, connecting on 17-of-20 from the stripe in the first half. Michael Javes was 8-of-8 from the line in helping UALR go into the half with a 36-32 edge.
Williams erased the Trojan halftime lead with a floater from the left side of the lane and put the Mean Green on top 38-36 with 18:15 on the clock. Jacob Holmen posted his second block of the year on the low post, which led to a transition bucket on the other end that gave NT its biggest lead of the day – 47-41 with 13 minutes remaining.
A thunderous Mitchell dunk with 6:23 remaining on the clock drew a foul and gave NT a 55-50 lead. The dunk gave Mitchell a double-double, his sixth of the last seven games.
Now assured of a bye, North Texas closes the regular season on Sunday at Denver at 2 p.m. Central.