DENTON (2/28/07) Kendrick Davis led five players in double figures as the North Texas men’s basketball team defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, 93-78, in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Wednesday night in the Super Pit.
The fifth-seed Mean Green (20-10) advances to the second round of the conference tournament where the team will play fourth-seed Louisiana Monroe on Sunday, March 4 at Lafayette, LA. NT is 2-6 in SBC tournament history, advancing out of the first round for only the second time in seven tournaments.
“We have had some good teams in the past that have played hard and just didn’t finish the deal in the past,” said head coach Johnny Jones. “We have been very close in the past. I am excited about this team. I think we have the make-up of a team that can accomplish a great deal.”
North Texas is 3-0 this season against the Ragin’ Cajuns and improves the series record to 10-14. With the win, the Mean Green becomes the fifth team in North Texas history to reach the 20-victory plateau.
Davis scored 21 of his 24 points in the first half, leading the Mean Green to a double-digit advantage. He hit five of his six three-pointers in the opening period. The team hit eight three-pointers in the game.
The Mean Green used a 27-9 run midway through the first half to take a 19-point advantage, 43-24, with 4:52 left in the first half. Quincy Williams scored five points in the run, while Davis poured in 10, including back-to-back three-pointers. Williams finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Louisiana-Lafayette hit a layup as time expired in the first half to cut the North Texas lead to single digits, 50-41. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored nine of the first 13 points of the second half to cut the NT lead to four, 54-40.
Harold Stewart led the Mean Green on a 19-7 run to put North Texas back ahead in double-digits for good, 73-57, with 10:35 left in the game. Stewart scored eight of his 10 points in the run. He was also strong on the boards. On two consecutive North Texas possessions in the run, he came up with second-chance points after getting the offensive rebound to put the Mean Green’s lead back to double-digits.
Rebounds proved crucial in the second half. The Mean Green out-rebounded the Ragin’ Cajuns, 44-29 in the game and 24-14 in the second half. Stewart led the way with nine rebounds, one board shy of a double-double.
“We have been a good rebounding team all year,” said Jones. “We have out-rebounded most of the our opponents all season. Lafayette is a big physical team. They attack the glass well. Stewart came in and brought a great deal of energy.”
Michael Sturns and Calvin Watson also scored in double figures with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Point guard Ben Bell was one point shy of double-figures with nine points.
North Texas will play Louisiana Monroe in second-round action on Sunday, March 4 at 3 pm in Lafayette.