North Texas Drops Conference Opener, 80-76
A three-point field goal with 1:10 to play swung a back-and-forth second half to Louisiana-Lafayette's advantage and sent North Texas to an 80-76 loss in its Sun Belt Conference opener Saturday night at the Super Pit.
DENTON, Texas - A three-point field goal with 1:10 to play swung a back-and-forth second half to Louisiana-Lafayette's advantage and sent North Texas to an 80-76 loss in its Sun Belt Conference opener Saturday night at the Super Pit.
The Mean Green (3-5 on the year) went cold the final two minutes of the game after a Jordan Williams three-pointer gave them a 71-68 lead. North Texas didn't score another field goal until four seconds left in the game, when Chris Jones's three-point play drew the Mean Green within one at 77-76. The Cajuns (3-5, 1-1), however, were good on nine of ten free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win.
There were 15 ties and 15 lead changes in the game.
Jones led North Texas in scoring with a season-high 23 points. But the Mean Green struggled all night to get its leading scorer, Tony Mitchell, involved in the offense. The All-American sophomore finished with three points, a season low.
North Texas started sluggishly, and an early 7-1 ULL rebounding advantage - including five offensive boards - propelled Louisiana to a 9-6 lead.
But the Mean Green regrouped and began leveling the rebounding numbers, and an offensive rebound and two-handed put-back dunk by Jordan Williams, who had a team-high 11 points in the first half, sparked a North Texas run. The Mean Green went on a 12-0 scoring streak, highlighted by a three-pointer by Chris Jones and a steal and dunk by Williams to build a 24-14 lead.
The lead was short lived, however, as ULL went on a 7-0 run of its own to pull within 24-21. North Texas briefly pushed the lead back to nine on dunks by Jones and Jordan Williams, but couldn't shake the Cajuns, who pulled even at 33-33.
North Texas was good on 51.7 percent of its shots in the first half, but the Cajuns' rebounding edge and 12 offensive boards sent the game to halftime tied, 39-39.
The Mean Green went back in front early in the second half, and did so in thunderous fashion. Tony Mitchell, held to one point in the first half, stole the ball and went in for a powerful dunk. A moment layer, Roger Franklin drove the baseline for another dunk and a 48-44 lead. Mitchell's third block of the game and a layup by Jacob Holmen made it 50-44.
Again, however, North Texas could not hold the lead. Louisiana took leads at 52-50 and 59-57 on three-point field goals. The Mean Green shot just 40 percent from the field in the first 13 minutes of the half but started getting its own offensive rebounds, helping them to draw even at 62-62 with six minutes to play.
From there, the lead changed hands seven times. Jones's free throws kept North Texas in front at 65-64 and 68-66, and Jordan Williams hit a three for a 71-68 lead with 2:12 to play.
Louisiana got within one at 71-70, then went up 73-71 and never relinquished the lead.
Franklin had 14 points and five rebounds for North Texas, and Jordan Williams finished with 11 points.
The Mean Green will next play on Wednesday at St. Louis before returning to the Super Pit on December 8 to face Jackson State.