Men's Basketball Wins Defensive Battle Over Florida Atlantic
Lawson Leads Mean Green With 18 Points
DENTON - The North Texas men's basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak, holding off Florida Atlantic, 59-53, on Thursday night at the Super Pit. A.J. Lawson scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half to fend off the Owls.
"He can shoot. When he's on balance and gets his feet set, he can make shots," North Texas head coach Grant McCasland said. "In the first half, I thought he rushed some of his finishes, but in the second half, he was more composed."
"In the first half, I was being more aggressive and trying to get to the lane," Woolridge said. "In the second half, they kind of made an adjustment and limited space a little bit."
The Mean Green outrebounded the Owls, 43-32, led by Simmons' team-best eight boards. North Texas recorded 16 offensive rebounds, just three shy of the team's season high, and Simmons also led the team in that category with four.
"It came from a lot of different players," McCasland said. "That's how we're gonna have to win."
Woolridge started 3-of-4 from the field with six of the team's first eight points, but the rest of the Mean Green combined to shoot 1-for-12. North Texas responded with a stretch of 6-of-8 shooting and finished the half just over 35 percent from the field.
A Woolridge layup sparked an 8-0 run as the defense held the Owls scoreless for four minutes. However, Roosevelt Smart picked up his third foul with 12 minutes to play and didn't return until the second half. Smart was called for a fourth foul early in the second half and finished the game with only 21 minutes.
"Rose isn't one of those guys that gets in foul trouble and even when he's in foul trouble, we play him through it," McCasland said. "Tonight was one of those ones where it came back to get us that we left him in there a little bit."
North Texas extended its lead to double-digits at 25-15 behind a stingy defense that forced four turnovers and didn't allow a field goal over a four-minute span. The Mean Green finished the first half with 10 points on seven FAU turnovers and led 26-24.
Lawson led the Mean Green out of the break with eight of the team's first 12 points, highlighted by a pair of three-point plays. However, the Owls found their touch from the field, hitting 5-of-6 to tie the game for the first time since it was 8-8.
"We made some personnel adjustments defensively," McCasland said. "We did a good job walling up and making them run deeper into the possession. We were fortunate to get some rebounds and some separation."
North Texas closed the game 4-of-5 from the field, including five points from Lawson and a Simmons dunk that served as the dagger, putting the Mean Green ahead 57-51.
North Texas continues a three-game homestand against Florida International with tip off set for 5 p.m. Saturday.
- Woolridge moved into 10th in school history in single-season assists (123).
- The Mean Green have won seven straight against FAU and are 6-1 against the Owls at home.
- North Texas' bench is averaging 21.8 points per game in the last six games (15 on Thursday).
- The win marks the first for the Mean Green when scoring less than 60 points.