Men’s basketball remains unscathed in conference play with narrow win over UTSA

Men’s basketball remains unscathed in conference play with narrow win over UTSA

Men’s basketball remains unscathed in conference play with narrow win over UTSA
December 30
22:18 2017

Throughout Saturday night’s game, the University of Texas at San Antonio’s band section was heckling senior forward Shane Temara for a reason unknown to most in attendance.

“Shane you suck” and “Shane sucks” chants rang out from the UTSA side of the gym even when the big man was not on the court. The fascination with Temara eventually turned into a loss at the hands of Temara as he made the game-saving block with under 10 seconds left in the game with North Texas (9-6, 2-0) leading the Roadrunners (8-7, 1-1) by one point.

Temara did not have the best game of his season, but he finished with eight points and six boards and came up big on the defensive side when it mattered most.

As a result, the Mean Green defeated UTSA 72-71 in San Antonio and are now 5-1 in games decided by five or fewer points.

“Our team really wants to win,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “There’s a lot of belief and a lot of togetherness and even when things aren’t going our way there’s a sense of urgency in the way our guys are playing. Shane did a good job blocking the shot and that’s just a hustle play that wins you the game.”

While Temara silenced the enamored Roadrunner band, sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge had one of his more impressive offensive showings of the year. Woolridge finished with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting including a 50 percent mark from 3-point range which is not Woolridge’s primary weapon in his repertoire.

Woolridge played all 40 minutes once again and only had one turnover in the game.

A team-high 14 of his points came in the second half as the Mean Green came out of the gates firing offensively.

“I personally felt I had to start playing more aggressive,” Woolridge said. “I started looking to attack instead of being passive and waiting for the defense to set up. [I just] penetrated the defense and they started opening up.”

Another sophomore who was with North Texas last season when the Mean Green went 2-12 in conference play is guard A.J. Lawson. Lawson had a stellar game of his own on both ends scoring 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including the eventual game-winning bucket on a hard drive to the basket.

Lawson also did a good job defensively affecting shots at the rim and forcing opposing forwards to take tough shots over him.

Both of the returners in the backcourt complimented sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart, who had another big game finishing with 22 points while shooting 5-of-13 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line.

“Ryan let the game come to him and we finally freed him up in the second half so he could get some baskets,” McCasland said. “And A.J. had some tough rim attacks. He just had more of a sense of urgency in the way he played and he was more aggressive at the rim.”

This is the first time since 1991 North Texas has started 2-0 in conference play with both wins being on the road.

In a game where UTSA led by 13 in the first half, North Texas gritted its teeth and found a way to win against one of its more prominent rivals.

“We’re definitely going to have a lot of momentum heading into next game,” Woolridge said. “We have to win at home so these next games are going to be key.”

Next up: North Texas returns to Denton to take on Charlotte at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Featured image: Ryan Woolridge (0) scores against opponent Bethune-Cookman. Madison Gore

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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