Coming off a narrow victory on Thursday against Florida Atlantic, the Mean Green welcomed in Florida International tonight. Looking to climb up the Conference USA standings, North Texas was in for an extended dog fight at The Super Pit.
The first half for UNT was what you call a sloppy one. In the first 10 minutes, North Texas could not buy a bucket. Lucky for them, FIU wasn’t shooting much better. Both teams picked up their play to close the half as the Panthers took a 35-29 lead.
Roosevelt Smart led the way for the Mean Green with 10 points. Despite the heckling from the UNT band, guard Brian Beard Jr. scored 14 first half points for FIU.
In the second half, North Texas looked like a different team. They were the aggressor early and shots began to fall at a high rate. Smart and Ryan Woolridge took control of the game for the Mean Green on the offensive end. But FIU had their own duo to reckon with.
Along with Beard Jr. continued strong play, Eric Lockett exploded in the second half. It seemed as if every shot that #5 took was falling through that net.
The game became a back-and-fourth battle in the final minutes as each team fought for the lead. A late three pointer by DJ Draper under two minutes to play gave the Mean Green a lead but Eric Lockett returned the favor for the Panthers with a fast break lay-up to tie the game and send in into overtime after a failed three point heave at the buzzer by Beard Jr.
Drama ensued in overtime as the atmosphere felt like a NCAA Tournament game. With 12.8 finds left, a charge was called on FIU, giving UNT the ball down by one. A technical was called on a Panthers assistant coach for stepping outside of the coaches box yet was rescinded after a meeting by the three officials. Safe to say that The Super Pit crowd was not amused.
Following the confusion, there was still 12.8 seconds on the clock with UNT down one. Woolridge fumbled the ball driving through the lane and tossed it to DJ Draper on the right wing who nailed another clutch three pointer with 3.6 seconds remaining to seal the deal for North Texas, 69-67.
Ryan Woolridge commanded the second half, leading the game with 21 points, six assists, and five boards. Roosevelt Smart added 16 along with Draper’s clutch nine points.
Eric Lockett and Brian Beard Jr. had UNT on their heels all game long, finishing with a combined 48 of FIU’s 67 points, along with 11 rebounds for Lockett.
This victory gives North Texas their 12th win of the season and a 5-4 record in conference play. They’ll look to build on that record when Rice comes to The Super Pit next Saturday.
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