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Katenda leads men’s basketball to win on senior night

Katenda leads men’s basketball to win on senior night

North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda (20) shoots a free-throw against the Charlotte 49ers. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Katenda leads men’s basketball to win on senior night
March 05
21:51 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

Coming off a 76-70 loss on Thursday to Old Dominion University, Mean Green men’s basketball finished its 2015-16 campaign with a win in a physical game at the Super Pit.

North Texas (12-19, 7-11) pulled out an 80-77 win at home against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on senior night. The team honored graduate forward Eric Katenda along with senior guards Chris Campbell and Todd Eaglin before the game.

The matchup marked the 7th all-time meeting between the programs with Charlotte (13-18, 9-9) winning four of the first six. The last time the teams played, North Texas fell 103-79 in Charlotte on Feb. 13.

North Texas junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) drives the basket against the Charlotte 49ers. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

North Texas junior guard Deckie Johnson (10) drives the basket against the Charlotte 49ers. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

The team struggled to keep up with the 49ers without sophomore forward Jeremy Combs, trailing Charlotte from the opening tip until the 3:41 mark in the first half, taking a 28-27 lead.

North Texas leaned on its backcourt to carry the offensive load in Combs’ absence, as junior guards J-Mychal Reese and Deckie Johnson scored 19 points each. However, Katenda led the Mean Green in scoring with 20 to go with five rebounds and a block in just 20 minutes.

Freshman guard Ja’Michael Brown sparked the home crowd by draining a three-pointer as time expired in the first half to pull the game to a one-point deficit, heading to the locker room down 38-37. Brown finished as the Mean Green’s fourth double-digit scorer with 13 points.

Then, North Texas came out firing in the second half. Katenda and Reese hit back-to-back jump shots to start the Mean Green’s first two possessionsf, going up 45-40 after the first couple minutes. A Johnson three-pointer a few possessions later would bring the crowd back into the game and keep North Texas up 52-49 with 14:27 remaining.

North Texas freshman center Rickey Brice (23) dunks against the Charlotte 49ers. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

North Texas freshman center Rickey Brice (23) dunks against the Charlotte 49ers. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Ten minutes of regulation later, another Brown three-pointer put the Mean Green up 76-71 with four minutes left in the game. Charlotte responded by taking the ball to the hoop three times for lay-ups to make the score 78-77 with two minutes remaining.

The Mean Green defense forced a turnover with 1:20 left. Brown missed a three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining and the ball in Charlotte’s hands. North Texas would force another turnover with 13 seconds left before Johnson stepped out of bounds on the inbounds pass the very next play.

The 49ers had yet another opportunity to take a late lead, but missed a jump shot with Katenda grabbing the last rebound of the game. Charlotte intentionally fouled the forward, and Katenda made both free throws to put the Mean Green up 80-77. A missed 49ers three-pointer in the waning seconds gave North Texas the victory.

The Mean Green will play Western Kentucky University in the first round as the No. 9 seed in the Conference USA tournament on Wednesday in Birmingham, Alabama. Tipoff will be at 12 p.m.

Featured Image: North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda (20) shoots a free-throw against the Charlotte 49ers. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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