Woolridge's Career High Not Enough In Loss At FIU
Freshman Guard Duo Combined To Score 34 Points
MIAMI – Costly turnovers and missed free throws proved to be too much as North Texas lost on the road at FIU 90-71 Saturday night at the Lime Court FIU arena.
“We dug ourselves an early hole tonight and couldn’t get enough stops down the stretch,” head coach Tony Benford said. “Ryan Woolridge played really well in the second half but we couldn’t take care of the basketball in the end.”
The Mean Green (7-17, 1-11 C-USA) couldn’t complete the road sweep and now have six games remaining in the Conference USA schedule. Freshman guard Ryan Woolridge tied his career-high with 21 points, including 17 in the second half. Woolridge finished 8-of-9 from the field and dished out four assists. Classmate A.J. Lawson had 13 points off 5-for-9 from the field.
The Mean Green couldn’t defend FIU’s Elmo Stephen who scored a career-high 34 points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds. North Texas also committed 21 turnovers, second most this season, leading to 22 points for the Panthers.
In the second half, FIU went on a 9-2 run to open a 15-point lead at 47-32 just two minutes in. The Panthers continued to put the pressure on the Mean Green and increased the lead to 22-points off a layup by Donte McGill.
FIU led by 15 points at 72-57 with 6:42 remaining when North Texas started to make a rally. Woolridge scored on a fast break to cut the lead to 74-65 after an 8-2 North Texas run. The Mean Green kept fighting after a layup by Lawson to make the score 76-69 with 2:21 left.
North Texas ran out of gas as FIU ended the game on a 14-2 run to make the final score 90-71.
FIU couldn’t miss in the first half from 3-point range going 8-for-15 to take a 38-30 lead against North Texas. FIU’s Elmo Stephen had 20 first half points, including 4-of-6 from 3-point land.
North Texas couldn’t hold on to the basketball with 12 turnovers in the first half. Senior guard J-Mychal Reese had eight points and dished out two assists. Sophomore center Rickey Brice Jr. came off the bench and scored seven points with five rebounds.
The Mean Green got within six points at 19-13 off two free throws by sophomore guard Ja’Michael Brown. FIU responded with a 13-2 run holding North Texas scoreless for almost five minutes.
Brice, Jr. hit back-to-back hook shots in the lane to get North Texas within eight points at 31-23. Each team scored seven points apiece to end the half at 38-30 lead for FIU.
North Texas had a tough night shooting from downtown going 3-for-17 and FIU hit nine three-pointers.
North Texas returns home to face UTEP on beIN sports network Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Super Pit.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
• 21 turnovers for the Mean Green is the second most of the season since 24 in the season opener against Sul Ross State
• Woolridge tied his career-high with 21 points and hit a career-best eight field goals
• Shane Temara has started the last seven games.
• Freshman A.J. Lawson made his 13th start of the season
• Senior guard J-Mychal Reese has started 17 games in a row