Mean Green Battles Valiantly But Falls In OT At LA Tech
North Texas Big Three Scores 53 Of 62 Points In Loss
Sophomore Jeremy Combs pulled down a game high 18 rebounds in a loss at LA Tech (photo by Rick Yeatts).
RUSTON, LA. -- The North Texas men’s basketball team played its best road game of the season but just couldn’t finish falling in overtime, 73-62, Thursday night at the Thomas Assembly Center.
With the overtime loss, the Mean Green falls to 11-17 overall and are 6-9 in Conference USA. LA Tech improves to 21-7 overall and has a 10-5 C-USA mark.
“We should have won tonight but we just couldn’t close them out in regulation,” head coach Tony Benford said. “I give LA Tech credit in overtime they were able to make plays and we didn’t execute down the stretch.”
Junior Deckie Johnson led the team in scoring with 20 points off five of 17 from the field. Johnson was seven of nine from the free throw line. Classmate J-Mychal Reese added 18 points and grabbed four rebounds in 38 minutes.
Sophomore Jeremy Combs picked up his 16th career double-double with 15 points and 18 rebounds. Combs was one shy of tying his career high of 19 rebounds, including 15 in the first half against LA Tech. Combs now has 187 rebounds in C-USA games setting a new single-season mark passing former Cincinnati and NBA standout Kenyon Martin (186 rebounds).
North Texas finished the game outrebounding LA Tech 43-to-40 and scored 38 points in the paint. There were 11 lead changes and nine ties in the tight contested road game.
LA Tech took control outscoring the Mean Green 14-to-3 in the extra session. The overtime started poorly for North Texas as Dayon Griffin nailed a three pointer to immediately give LA Tech a 62-59 lead.
The Mean Green were held scoreless for over four minutes until a dunk by Combs with 43 seconds left put the score 69-61 in favor of LA Tech.
Combs would hit one of two from the line and the Bulldogs cruised to a 73-62 victory in overtime.
In the second half, NT had multiple opportunities to win the game in regulation before running out of gas in overtime. With 1:12 remaining in the game, Johnson hit two clutch free throws to tie the game at 57-57 apiece. After two missed free throws from LA Tech’s Alex Hamilton, Reese raced up the floor and made a driving layup to give the Mean Green a 59-57 advantage with 43 seconds left.
NT would force a huge turnover as Griffin stepped out of bounds with 21 seconds remaining. The inbounds came to freshman Allante Holston who was fouled. Holston stepped up and missed a free throw as Hamilton calmly dribbled through the lane and tied the game at 59-59. Reese got one last chance with a layup that rattled around the rim and fell off sending the game into overtime.
The Mean Green defense held LA Tech to 73 points and only 36 percent from the field in the field half. North Texas built a 24-23 lead in the first half off 10 points from Johnson.
North Texas was looking for its first win at LA Tech since 1952 and a tough day at the free throw line ended up costing them in the end going 10 for 17.
North Texas travels to Hattiesburg, Miss. to take on Southern Miss. Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hits
-North Texas has hit a three pointer in 79 straight games
-Sophomore Jeremy Combs earned his 13th double-double of the season
-Junior Deckie Johnson scored in double figures for the 21st time this season
-Junior J-Mychal Reese scored in double figures for the 22nd time this season
-Freshman Ja’Michael Brown dished out a career high seven assists