North Texas Falls To Charlotte On Late Layup
Mean Green Surrender Four-Point Lead In Final Possessions
DENTON - The North Texas men's basketball team was on the wrong side of a tight Conference USA game for the first time, losing 70-68 to Charlotte on Thursday evening at the Super Pit. The Mean Green had a four-point lead with under two minutes to play, but allowed a layup with .02 seconds remaining that gave the 49ers the win.
"They were tougher than we were tonight," North Texas head coach Grant McCasland said. "I thought they were more physical than us, which is indicative of those last few possessions down the stretch."
Roosevelt Smart and Shane Temara led North Texas (9-7, 2-1 C-USA) with 12 points each, and Zach Simmons joined them in double digits with 10. The Mean Green, who rely on points from starters, uncharacteristically got 24 points from their bench.
"We've got guys that keep getting better," McCasland said. "We're not even close to what we could be and you're starting to see glimpses of that."
After Temara hit a three-pointer to open the scoring, North Texas went scoreless for over three minutes as Charlotte (5-8, 1-1 C-USA) scored eight straight. The Mean Green used a 5-0 run out of the first media timeout to tie the game at 10-10, but the 49ers' hot shooting led to another eight-point streak.
"We just weren't playing aggressive enough," Temara said.
With the score at 23-14, Michael Miller entered the game, picked up the team's first offensive rebound and scored four points in a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to three. Charlotte's offense came to a screeching halt, closing the half 6-of-22 from the field, including a four-minute scoring drought. Despite their struggles, the 49ers went to the locker room with a 34-28 advantage.
"There wasn't really an adjustment, but more of a resolve to how we were going to play," McCasland said. "We did change up our ball-screen coverage a little."
There was just one lead change through the first 33 minutes of the game, when Charlotte went on an 8-0 run after Temara's game-opening three-pointer. It came full circle as a Temara layup gave North Texas a 54-53 lead.
"I had to get good stops on the other end, because I'd score one and I'd give up one," Temara said on playing from behind most of the game.
Fouls haunted both schools as they combined for 39 in the game, and Simmons fouled out in a crucial part of the game with just under four minutes to go and the score knotted at 60-60. The last foul of the game sent Allante Holston to the line for two free throws down one at 68-67. After converting one, Milos Supica scored on a put-back layup to clinch the game for the 49ers.
"You can't put the game in other people's hands," McCasland said. "You have to control what you can control and win the battles you can control."
North Texas stays at the Super Pit to host Old Dominion on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 5 p.m.
The Mean Green set a season high with seven blocks as a team.
Tope Arikawe's seven rebounds marked a career-high and tied for the team lead on Thursday.
Ryan Woolridge had a career-high 11 assists and became the first Mean Green player with 10 since Chris Jones on Dec. 31, 2011.