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Men’s basketball haunted by second half woes in road loss to ODU

Men’s basketball haunted by second half woes in road loss to ODU

North Texas senior forward Eric Katenda (20) fades away from the defender to get the basket against Louisiana Tech. Nathan Roberts | Contributing Photographer

Men’s basketball haunted by second half woes in road loss to ODU
February 11
21:48 2016

Torie Mosley | Staff Writer

@toriemosley

North Texas men’s basketball just can’t seem to win on the road.

After picking up two straight wins at the Super Pit, the Mean Green (9-15, 4-7) dropped the sixth of its last eight games 67-47 on the road against Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. With the loss, North Texas now owns a 1-9 record away from home this season.

To start the game, the Mean Green came out firing on all cylinders in a back-and-forth first half against Old Dominion (14-10, 7-4), the fifth place team in the Conference USA standings. North Texas led 24-21 after the first half before the Monarchs took over in the second.

“We had a rough second half,” head coach Tony Benford said. “We didn’t do a good job getting stops on defense, and we couldn’t score at all.”

The Mean Green struggled offensively against the more aggressive Old Dominion team, shooting only 31.4 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from three-point range.

North Texas three-point specialist and junior guard Deckie Johnson turned his ankle at the four minute mark of the first half, but still put up 30 minutes of action for the team.

“Deckie going down with his ankle injury definitely affected us on the perimeter,” Benford said. “We didn’t make the shots we should have made to keep us in the game.”

On the defensive end, the Mean Green battled hard in the first half before falling behind early in the last 20 minutes of the game. The Monarchs scored the first eight points after the break and went on a 20-6 run to start the second half.

Graduate forward Eric Katenda said he was proud of the way the team played in the first half, but North Texas failed to keep up with the Monarchs towards the end of the game.

“We played way better in the first,” Katenda said. “In the second half, [Old Dominion] hustled more than we did. They controlled the paint with their big men and forced us to take tough shots.”

Spreading the ball on offense was a big challenge for the Mean Green throughout the matchup, as the team only connected on five assists the entire game. Sophomore forward Jeremy Combs posted 10 points and 12 rebounds for his eighth double-double in 11 games, but it wasn’t enough to lead the team to victory in its tough road contest.

“We let the ball stick too much on offense tonight,” junior guard J-Mychal Reese said. “We couldn’t find an outside shot, and they doubled Jeremy every time he had the ball.”

Old Dominion’s control of the paint fueled the 20-point loss for the Mean Green. Katenda fouled out in the second half, making matter worst for North Texas.

“We couldn’t drive the ball as much in the second half,” Reese said. “We got beat in the post on the boards and on offense.”

Old Dominion out-rebounded the Mean Green 44-36 in the game, an area Benford looks to improve on headed into Saturday’s game.

“They beat us on the glass tonight, and that’s always tough,” Benford said. “Our defense needs to play more up tempo if we want to get better.”

Next up for North Texas is another road matchup against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Saturday. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.

Featured Image: Senior forward Eric Katenda (20) was proud of the way the team played despite the loss. Nathan Roberts | Staff Photographer

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