Late UNT Rally Thwarted In Overtime Loss To WKU
Woolridge 3-pointer Forces Overtime, But WKU Too Much For Mean Green
DENTON - After a red-hot first half gave North Texas a comfortable eight-point lead at the break, it appeared an ice-cold second half stretch would doom the Mean Green against one of Conference USA's top teams.
Instead, North Texas put on a furious, late rally to force overtime before falling to Western Kentucky 102-94 at the Super Pit.
North Texas shot 55.9 percent from the field in the first half but then had a 1-for-11 stretch over more than three minutes midway through the second half, during which the Hilltoppers built a 12-point lead and appeared to salt the game away.
"There was that stretch to start the second half and we turned it over on, I think, three of our first four possessions, and we had a different casual look to us," UNT coach Grant McCasland said. "They went and scored on layups. I thought that stretch really changed the whole game. We battled and competed and made them take tough shots and took a lead at half, and it disintegrated in a few minutes in the second half."
The Hilltoppers built their lead thanks to big second halves from freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth and leading scorer Justin Johnson. Hollingsworth scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half and overtime, while Johnson finished with 16 points after scoring just four points in the first half. Darius Thompson also scored 18 of his 28 points after the break.
Hollingsworth was 14-for-14 from the foul line as Western Kentucky (19-7, 11-2) made a staggering 37 of 48 attempts from the foul line, while North Texas shot just 7-for-13 from the charity stripe.
Western Kentucky was in the bonus midway through the second half and used its foul shooting to build a 12-point lead after North Texas led the game the entire first half.
But the Mean Green had one final rally in them as they held WKU to no field goals over the final five-plus minutes of regulation. After a 3-pointer fell short of the iron with seconds remaining, a mad scramble for the loose ball ensued before DJ Draper found Ryan Woolridge in the left corner for a fall-away 3-pointer to tie the game at 80-80 and send the game to overtime.
"We had a lot of grit from our guys to make that comeback," McCasland said. "We sped them up and turned them over. I thought we did a good job of being aggressive down the stretch and making them turn it over. Give them credit in overtime, because they came out and made two really tough shots to start overtime, and it was an uphill battle after that."
North Texas was led by Roosevelt Smart's 22 points, while A.J. Lawson and Woolridge each chipped in 17 points and Lawson added a team-high eight rebounds. Draper scored 14 points off the bench.
North Texas (14-12, 7-6 C-USA) returns to action on Saturday, when the Mean Green host Marshall for a 5 p.m. tip.
- Ryan Woolridge's game-high seven assists on the night put him within one of tying for fourth place on the all-time single-season assists list. With one more assist, he'll tie Pat Hicks with 154 (1980-81). He can surpass Hicks for third place all-time (156, in 1981-82) with four more assists.
- With DJ Draper's 3-pointer midway through the first half, the Mean Green hit the 200 mark on the season for made 3-pointers. UNT finished with 13 makes on the night to give it 210 on the season. The school record is 250, and UNT still has five games left to play this season.
- A.J. Lawson scored 12 points in the first half, eclipsing his season high of nine in the opening half.
- Allante Holston left the game with 11:04 to play with an apparent ankle injury, after he came down awkwardly on alley-oop attempt. After the game, coach Grant McCasland said he didn't believe it was too serious and Holston was able to walk with a small limp before the game had ended.