SLU Has The Answers Late In Downing NT Hoops
NT Takes Billikens Down To The Wire In 67-63 Loss
SAINT LOUIS, Mo. – Tony Mitchell carried the Mean Green in the first half and Chris Jones took over in the second, but Saint Louis had the answer in the closing seconds to knock off North Texas, 67-63.
Mitchell, a Preseason All-American, wowed the crowd with 18 points – 14 in the first half – and Jones racked up a game-high 21 points in willing the Mean Green (3-6) back into a tight down-to-the-wire ballgame.
Jones’ 3-point play with 6:53 on the clock cut the SLU (5-3) lead to two points, and the sophomore tied the score at 54 on the next trip down the floor. He gave NT its first lead of the second half on the Mean Green’s next possession with a nifty layup from the left baseline.
Down a bucket with just under a minute to play Roger Franklin hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 61 apiece. Jordair Jett responded for SLU with a layup on the other end that would prove the game winner. Jones had a look at the game-tying runner, but it rimmed out, and SLU closed the contest with free throws.
“I think our guys battled and played consistently on both ends of the floor tonight,” said North Texas head coach Tony Benford. “We have to get stops late in the game, and that’s the difference in this game. We stayed together as a team and played pretty well tonight. I know that this team is getting better with each game.”
Free throws and defense kept the Mean Green in the game. NT was 15-of-16 from the stripe in the game, which is good for the third best mark in school history. NT held the Billikens to 39.2 percent shooting.
North Texas was on fire from the start. Jones knocked down his first three shots, including a 3-pointer from the right of the key. In all, NT hit five of its first six shots and led 12-7 with 14:34 left in the first.
The Billikens fired off a 10-0 run to take the lead, but still had no answer for Tony Mitchell and the Mean Green. The Preseason All-American led all scorers at the break with 14 points, and spurred NT’s finest comeback effort of the young season.
Mitchell and Jones were the bulk of NT’s first-half efforts, but it was a trio of unlikely heroes sent NT into the break with a 36-34 lead. Keith Coleman eluded a late shot-clock with bunny to tie the score with 2:35 remainings, followed by a banked in 3-pointer from Niko Stojiljkovic and a pair of free throws from P.J. Hardwick.
North Texas heads home for a Saturday night matchup with Jackson State at 6 p.m. at the Super Pit.