North Texas Daily

CBI champions, men’s basketball makes history with game 3 win

CBI champions, men’s basketball makes history with game 3 win

March 30
23:04 2018

During the first game of the season, way back on Nov. 10 against Eureka College , head coach Grant McCasland waved his hands multiple times to encourage the crowd to cheer. It was a good-sized crowd of about 3,000 people who were all on hand to see the start of the McCasland era.

A whole lot has changed since then.

Friday night at the Super Pit, a roaring crowd of 6,291 chanted, cheered, jeered and celebrated as they watched the Mean Green (20-18) win the College Basketball Invitational Finals 88-77 over the University of San Francisco (22-17) in the winner-take-all game three.

“The energy in that building was as good as I ever hoped it would be when I walked on the court the first day I came in and got introduced as the coach,” McCasland said. “The energy we had tonight was as good of an environment I’ve ever been in.”

Sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart had was the star of the night for McCasland’s squad, scoring a team-high 25 points, while shooting 14-of-14 from the free throw line and 3-of-6 from 3-point range.

Smart broke the record for most points in a single season with his 25 points, finishing the year with 742 total points, over 19.5 points per game. In six games in the CBI tournament, Smart averaged 23 points per game and was awarded the tournament MVP after the win.

“We always had confidence, it’s just the crowd gave us that extra energy [tonight],” Smart said. “We made shots and fed off them for the whole game.”

North Texas had three more double figure scorers in junior guards Jorden Duffy and Michael Miller with 14 and 12, respectively, along with sophomore guard A.J. Lawson who also pitched in 12 points.

Sophomore point guard Ryan Woolridge did what he’s done all season, finishing with nine points, eight assists and five rebounds.

“These guys have found a way to win and do things that hadn’t been done here in a while,” McCasland said. “It’s a unique experience and let’s give our administration credit. I know how much work it took to make this happen. This is about our university and everybody is moving towards a common goal.”

San Francisco made their run in the middle of the second half, going on a 20-7 spurt to cut the Mean Green lead to one point at 52-51 with 9:33 left in regulation.

With the crowd behind them, North Texas countered.

The Mean Green made their final push for the championship with a 14-6 run in the following minutes, and it was enough. North Texas held off a flurry of 3-pointers by the Dons in the end and pulled out the championship.

“We calmed down,” Lawson said. “This season showed that we matured over time and in that situation, we were able to close the game by just calming down and passing the ball. Nobody tried to do anything spectacular, we just passed the ball and got open [shots].”

After the trophy presentation, McCasland took the mic near center court. He thanked a lot of people while his players opened Snapchat and presumably posted story after story showing off their accomplishment.

At the end of his spiel, he said five words to the Mean Green faithful. Five words that will hang in the air of the Super Pit until next November.

“This is only the beginning.”

Featured image: DENTON TEXAS, University of North Texas Mean Green Men’s Basketball v University of San Francisco at the Super Pit in Denton on March 30, 2018 (Photo Rick Yeatts Photography/Colin Mitchell)

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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