UNT Suffers Crushing Loss On Goaltending Call
Woolridge Scores Career High As Mean Green Fall In Last Second
DENTON - For the second time in three nights, North Texas suffered a heartbreaking loss as they jockey for position in the Conference USA standings.
Two days after losing an overtime thriller to Western Kentucky, the Mean Green topped the heartbreak with a crushing loss in the final seconds Saturday, falling 74-72 to Marshall.
After a Ryan Woolridge floater drew rim and was rebounded by Marshall with five seconds left, the Thundering Herd called timeout and set up a play for one of its best scorers.
Marshall junior C.J. Burks came through, going the length of the floor and putting up a layup that appeared to be blocked by UNT's Michael Miller on its way up, but the officials ruled Miller's block a goal-tend with three-tenths of a second to give Marshall the winning margin.
"Unfortunately, we just didn't do a good enough job of keeping him out of the paint," UNT coach Grant McCasland said of Burks coast-to-coast layup. "We didn't want it to get back to [Marshall leading scorer Jon] Elmore's hands so DJ [Draper] was guarding him and [Rosevelt Smart] had Burks. He actually fumbled it for a second but he got it back. Rose did a great job of making him go left and they called Mike for goaltending. We didn't do a good enough job guarding him. He [Burks] went 11-for-13 with a lot of layups. That basket kind of summed up what he did. That's what good players do -- make layups at the rim."
Burks led the way for Marshall (19-8, 10-4) with 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting, while Marshall's leading scorer Jon Elmore scored 16 and Ajdin Penava added 15.
UNT led the game 72-68 with one minute and 43 seconds to play before Marshall ended the game on a 6-0 run. UNT outrebounded Marshall by 10 and also led the Thundering Herd in bench points and points in the paint.
"Our team is so close to being great," McCasland said. "You could tell there was a little more maturity on one side tonight. I think as we get a little older and more mature we'll find ourselves on the other side. The sense of urgency to compete is great, but to win them, we have to take another step."
Woolridge had a stellar game for the Mean Green (14-13, 7-7), scoring a career-high 25 points and also led the Mean Green in rebounds (six) and assists (five). Roosevelt Smart added 20 points for North Texas, and Zachary Simmons chipped in 10.
"I love the way Ryan is playing," McCasland said. "He's attacking the rim and putting a ton of pressure on teams. He made free throws down the stretch and just played really well."
To make the loss even more crushing, UNT held the conference's top offensive team to just 74 points -- 11 points below its season average -- thanks in large part to keeping the Thundering Herd to just 7-for-21 from beyond the arc, and still came out on the short end. UNT also shot just 6-for-15 from the foul line.
"This team keeps getting better," McCasland said. "I'm positive with them. I was excited for the crowd. They were a great group. Now we have to go win on the road and we'll keep getting better and believing we're in the right place at the right time. Our opportunity is coming."
North Texas (14-13, 7-7 C-USA) returns to action on Feb. 22, when the Mean Green travel to FIU for a 6 p.m. tip.
- Ryan Woolridge's five assists gives him 158 on the season and put him in sole possession of third place on the program's all-time single-season list. He is now 13 assists away from tying Pat Hicks (1982-83) for second on the list with four games remaining.
- With his third 3-pointer of the day midway through the first half, Roosevelt Smart hit the century mark for 3-pointers made this season. He had previously broken the school single-season record of 90.