North Texas Drops Road Game Off Last-Second Free Throws At LA Tech
Mean Green Suffer First Road Loss In C-USA Play
RUSTON, La. -With North Texas leading by one with 7.4 seconds left, Louisiana Tech's Anthony Duruji was fouled and hit two free throws with 0.9 seconds remaining to hand the Mean Green their first loss on the road in Conference USA play, 66-65, Thursday night at Thomas Assembly Center.
Duruji was a 59 percent free throw shooter coming into the game and calmly hit the game-winning free throw to give LA Tech the victory. Duruji finished with a career-high 25 points and hit four three-pointers in the victory. Amorie Archibald also set a career-high with 21 points and five assists.
"From a scouting report perspective I thought we did what we wanted to do," head coach Grant McCasland said. Jacobi Boykins, their all-time leading three-point shooter, we held to six points and zero from the three-point line. We wanted to keep Duruji out of the paint and he goes off for 25 points and four three-pointers, so we played the numbers there."
Sophomore Roosevelt Smart had another solid game with 23 points, six rebounds and seven three-pointers, including a go-ahead three with 7.4 seconds left.
A.J. Lawson returned after a one-game absence and scored eight points with a team-leading seven rebounds off the bench. North Texas outscored LA Tech, 20-to-12 in bench points and scored 17 points off 18 Bulldog turnovers.
Redshirt sophomore DJ Draper added six points and four rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. Sophomore Ryan Woolridge had seven points and 10 assists.
The Mean Green (10-9, 3-3 C-USA) came out aggressive in the second half as Woolridge started to give his teammates open looks as senior Shane Temara hit a three-pointer to quickly cut the lead to 29-28.
With 9:52 remaining, LA Tech held a 50-44 lead after two free throws from Archibald. North Texas got within four points on a Woolridge layup to make the score 53-49.
The Bulldogs looked like they were going to pull away with a six point lead at 58-52 with 4:44 left on the clock. The Mean Green quickly went on a 5-0 run after two free throws from Smart made it a one-point game at 58-57.
Smart hit two clutch three-pointers to give North Texas the lead at 62-60 with 1:52 remaining and a three-pointer with 7.4 seconds left to go ahead 65-64. Smart has hit 17 three-pointers in his last two games.
In the first half, freshman Zachary Simmons scored nine points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field. LA Tech took control late in the half to lead 29-25 thanks to 13 points from freshman Amorie Archibald.
Sophomore Roosevelt Smart added six points and A.J. Lawson finished with four points off the bench.
North Texas jumped out to a 5-3 lead off a three-pointer by Smart and a layup from Simmons. The Bulldogs answered with a 5-0 run to go ahead 8-5 off a fast break dunk from Anthony Duruji at the 16:36 mark.
The Mean Green used a 7-0 run to build a 12-8 lead capped by a Smart three-pointer with 13:42 remaining in the half.
The team remained tied at 15-15 before LA Tech went on an 8-1 run to hold its largest lead at 23-16 off a couple free throw from Jacobi Boykins.
North Texas responded with a 5-0 run that forced a Bulldogs timeout after redshirt sophomore DJ Draper hit a wide-open three-pointer.
The Bulldogs outscored North Texas, 5-2 to end the half and take a four-point lead into halftime.
North Texas completes their road trip in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Southern Miss at 4 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
Mean Green fell on the road for the first time in C-USA play
Smart has hit 3 or more three-pointers in six-straight games
North Texas has trailed at halftime in all six Conference USA games (3-3)
Ryan Woolridge has dished out 10 or more assists in two of the last three games
DJ Draper has hit eight three-pointers in his last two games combined