Men’s basketball falls in overtime thriller to UTEP
The Mean Green men’s basketball team got a career night from senior forward Derail Green, who put up 21 points and six rebounds, but fell in overtime on Thursday night to the University of Texas at El Paso 77-71.
North Texas (7-18, 1-12) had three players finish in double-digits, but was just unable to hold on down the stretch.
“Our guys played hard,” Benford said. “Coach [Rob] Evans did a great job with the scouting report and the guys went out and executed. We kept them in front of us for the most part.”
Freshmen guards Ryan Woolridge and A.J. Lawson scored 15 points and 12 points, respectively. Woolridge came up an assist shy of the school’s first triple-double since 1993, finishing with 11 rebounds and nine assists in addition to his 15 point effort.
The Mean Green opened up the game scorching hot from beyond the 3-point line. The Miners (10-15, 8-5) entered the contest not giving up a fast break point over their last five contests, so the Mean Green attacked them from the outside.
Green opened the game 3-of-5 from 3-point land for nine first half points. Lawson and senior forward Shane Temara dumped in seven first-half points each.
Temara finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
Woolridge was the facilitator, dishing out three assists in the first half. The Mean Green guards were able to use spare space in the lane to find open shooters.
“It’s tough for a defense,” Woolridge said. “We have guards that can attack the rim and guards that can shoot. They don’t know how to play us.”
North Texas took a 29-28 lead into the locker-room at halftime, but both teams came out firing in the second half. UTEP got three scorers into double-digits with sophomore guard Paul Thomas leading the way with 23 points.
Woolridge and the guards continued to find Green beyond the arc and he continued to deliver. The Mean Green finished with 16 team assists, the second-most all season. Green hit 4-of-5 3-pointers in the second half.
But it was the Miners who jumped out to a 10-point lead with just over 12 minutes to play in the ballgame. Green finally stopped the bleeding by knocking down a three in the face of a defender to halt a 9-0 Miner run.
“I was just trying to make the right basketball play,” Green said. “I was just taking what the other team gave me.”
A ferocious Mean Green run that featured a few put-back dunks from Temara was capped off by a Steph Curry-style 3-pointer from Woolridge from near the Wells Fargo logo just on the other side of half-court. The Miners answered Woolridge with a bucket plus the foul to tie the game at 65 and force overtime.
The Miners outscored North Texas 12-6 in the overtime period on their way to the win. Lawson had a chance to tie the game at the free-throw line, but missed the front end of a one-and-one that spelled doom for the Mean Green.
North Texas shot just 42 percent from the free-throw line.
“We had a look to win the game late,” Benford said. “If we make our free throws we probably push it to another overtime. It’s real tough.”
Featured Image: North Texas senior guard J-Mychal Reese (52) points to the ground to dispute a charging foul called on him against UTEP. Colin Mitchell
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