Mitchell, Hardwick Forge Huge OT Win Over FAU
Mitchell's 24-Point Effort Keys First Road Win
BOCA RATON, Fla. – Tony Mitchell scored 24 points, and freshman point guard P.J. Hardwick scored five in overtime to give the North Texas basketball team a gritty 61-59 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
The win not only gives North Texas (8-12, 3-6 Sun Belt) its first true road victory of the year and its first-ever win in FAU Arena, but keeps the Mean Green alive in the Sun Belt West Division race.
With 34 seconds left in regulation FAU’s Greg Gantt nailed a 3-pointer with two defenders in his face and the shot clock evaporating to give the Owls (10-10, 5-4 Sun Belt) a 52-51 lead. Stefan Moody forced a steal on NT’s ensuing possession, and Gantt managed to hit a free throw to set up NT’s final charge.
Roger Franklin, who scored 10 points in the second half and the extra frame for NT, tipped in Mitchell’s 3-point attempt with a second on the clock to stun the FAU crowd and send the game into overtime.
That’s when the freshman point guard took over. Hardwick kissed a layup off the glass with 45 seconds remaining to give NT a four point lead in overtime. Gantt splashed his fifth 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to 60-59 with 28.5 left, but Hardwick landed a free throw to put NT on top by two with 21 seconds to go.
NT, which held the Owls to 36.8 percent shooting on the night, forced a couple of errant shots on FAU’s last look at the tying bucket to end the game.
Mitchell is now averaging 23 points per game at FAU Arena after last year’s 22 point, 21 rebound outing against the Owls. On Saturday, he notched his 33rd career double-digit scoring game to go with eight boards and three blocks.
He was joined in double figures by Jordan Williams (14 points) and Franklin (12).
Fast break dunks and alley-oops opened the game as the Mean Green raced out to a 15-3 lead. Jordan Williams found Tony Mitchell for a high-flying assist, and Williams notched a fast-break dunk of his own as NT held the Owls to a single field goal over the game’s first 10:40.
Gantt and the Owls woke up eventually, as the NCAA’s No. 4 ranked scorer fueled a 13-2 FAU run with a pair of 3-pointers. NT’s Mitchell answered the run with an NBA range 3-pointer of his own to make it 20-16 in favor of NT.
The Mean Green went into the break with a slim 23-22 edge thanks to 12 first-half points from Williams and 10 from Mitchell. One of the league’s top defenses, NT held the Owls to 32.1 percent shooting in the frame.
The FAU comeback set up a slugfest of a second half that saw NT retake the lead, 46-45, on a thunderous breakaway dunk from Mitchell. The big-man added to that edge moments later with another massive alley-oop from P.J. Hardwick. NT led by four with 1:47 on the clock.
North Texas returns home to face Middle Tennessee on Thursday night at the Super Pit. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.