Cold-Shooting Second Half Dooms Mean Green
After Hot Start, UNT Goes Cold Down Stretch In Loss
DENTON - A hot start was spoiled by an ice cold finish for North Texas as the Mean Green fell 75-63 to UT Rio Grande Valley on Monday night at the Super Pit.
UTRGV (3-2) was held scoreless for the game’s first five-plus minutes, but the Vaqueros closed the game by stifling the Mean Green offense with a 2-3 zone defense for much of the second half, leading to a 27-4 run over more than nine minutes that culminated with UTRGV taking a 68-54 lead with 3:53 to play.
“Give Rio Grande Valley credit for how they competed for 40 minutes,” North Texas coach Grant McCasland said. “When they got in that zone, that obviously changed the entire game and they stayed aggressive offensively and had ad good plan. That zone really caused us problems, which was obvious. That’s on me as a coach. I have to do a better job of helping our team know what we want to do as a scheme. I’m proud of the way we continued to play. Those games are hard when shots aren’t going down.”
UNT (2-2) had a 12-point lead less than six minutes into the game and led by five points at halftime, but things began to unravel in the second half for the Mean Green.
The Mean Green shot just 9-for-32 from the field and 1-for-14 from beyond the arc in the second half to cap a season-worst night from the field. UNT finished the game shooting 31.7 percent from the field and made just 19 field goals - both season lows.
Much of those problems came thanks to the Vaqueros’ zone after much of the first half saw UNT battling a full-court defense.
“We didn’t shoot well the whole game - it wasn’t just the zone,” sophomore guard A.J. Lawson said. “But yeah, their zone was pretty effective tonight.”
Lawson finished the night with 10 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the game’s closing minutes. Sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge led the Mean Green with 18 points and said his team’s energy in the second half contributed to the shooting woes after the break.
“I think we just came out a little too slow,” Woolridge said. “Our energy kind of went down once they started pressing us and getting into the zone. They kept it packed, so we couldn’t attack it like we wanted to. We tried, but our energy just wasn’t high enough.”
UTRGV got 27 points from redshirt senior guard Nick Dixon, who had just five points at halftime.
Senior forward Shane Temara, who entered Monday’s game having scored in double figures in all of the Mean Green’s previous three contests, was held to five points on two shots attempts.
“I didn’t do a good job of getting him the ball,” McCasland said. “I thought, if we make a couple of 3-pointers, it changes the complexion of how they have to guard us, but they were so packed in in that zone that it made us try to make one from out there. Unfortunately, we never did.”
- The Mean Green held UTRGV scoreless for the first 5:11 of the game, building a 9-0 lead in that time, and without a field goal for the first 6:49 of the game.
- Sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge went 9-for-12 from the foul line, setting new career highs for free-throw makes and attempts.
- With his 10th rebound with 15:52 left in the second half, sophomore guard A.J. Lawson tallied his first double-double of the season and third of his career. He finished the night with 10 points and 11 boards.
- With his 18 points on the night, Woolridge has now scored in double figures in each of the Mean Green’s four games this season.
- UTRGV sophomore forward Lesley Varner Jr. (Cedar Hill), the son of former North Texas quarterback Les Varner (1973-74), scored 13 points for the Vaqueros.
The Mean Green return home on Wednesday night to host Rogers State at 7 p.m. at the Super Pit.