North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball squander’s opportunity in final two minutes against Marshall

Men’s basketball squander’s opportunity in final two minutes against Marshall

February 17
22:07 2018

Ryan Woolridge had done it all for his team up to that point. He led the team in scoring, assists and rebounds with a stat line of 25-5-6 and blew past Marshall freshman guard Jarrod West numerous times while doing so.

But as time ticked down in a game tied at 72, Woolridge made his move left and West slid in front, knocking the ball loose in the process. The result was a heavily contested, off balanced, floater for Woolridge and Marshall University got the rebound with five seconds left.

Coming out of a timeout, the Thundering Herd got the ball to junior guard C.J. Burks who  went the distance of the court in four seconds before getting up a runner in the paint. Subsequently, North Texas junior guard Michael Miller blocked the ball as it hit the backboard. Goaltending, the referees called, essentially ending the game and giving Marshall the 74-72 win.

“The one guy we could not guard tonight was C.J. Burks and I thought that last play was indicative of what it was for us all night long. We had a hard time keeping him away from the rim and when you have all those shooters out there, there’s only so much help you can give.”

Burks led Marshall (19-8, 10-4) in scoring with 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting.

The Thundering Herd entered the game averaging 85 points per game but also allowed 80 points. With this in mind, the pace of the game only slightly caught the Mean Green (14-13, 7-7) off guard.

[The pace] was a little faster than what we thought,” sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart said. “C.J. did a good job attacking the basket, I just have to do a better job of guarding him. I guarded him for the majority of the game and he just got it going so have to do better job.

Woolridge finished the game 10-of-15 from the field and his backcourt-mate Smart pitched in 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 4-of-9 on 3-point shots.

The Mean Green led the Thundering Herd 38-33 at halftime but that lead was quickly erased as Marshall opened the second half on a 16-8 run.

“At the end of the first half and the start of the second half, that’s two [games] we’ve had that be a struggle,” McCasland said. “We’ve got to start the second half better with more of a sense of urgency, but I’m proud of our team.”

The Thundering Herd were physical with the North Texas shooters and often did not allow them to get a clean look even off of the dribble. As a result, sophomore guards DJ Draper and A.J. Lawson combined for two points on 1-of-6 combined shooting.

“‘[The Marshall bigs] were getting too deep in the paint and our wings were denied, so I just started attacking,” Woolridge said. “They definitely stopped our offense from getting into the flow of things but that’s where I just started attacking and seeing what I could create.”

With this tough stretch of games, facing four of the top five teams in Conference USA, behind them, McCasland looks forward to his team growing moving into the final four games of the regular season.

“I thought we showed our inexperience at the end of the game a little bit tonight, but that’s where this team is going to keep getting better,” McCasland said. “I’m excited about where we’re going.”

Up next: The Mean Green hit the road and play Florida International University on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Feautured image: North Texas sophomore guard Ryan Woolridge (0) drives the ball against Marshall. Marshall faced off against North Texas Saturday at the Super Pit in Denton, Texas., Saturday, February, 17, 2018, Super Pit in Denton, Texas. Jake King/DRC

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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