North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball unable to overcome Bulldogs’ physicality in first round loss

Men’s basketball unable to overcome Bulldogs’ physicality in first round loss

March 07
23:58 2018

It was an unusual setting for everyone in green Wednesday night at The Star in Frisco.

For almost all of the North Texas players, it was their first time in a Conference USA tournament game. For the fans, being the higher seed in a tournament basically at home felt surreal. Even the coach has not had a bevy of experience in a conference tournament at this level.

But Louisiana Tech University had no sympathy for the newcomers.

The Bulldogs imposed themselves on both ends, defeating the Mean Green 68-62.

“[Louisiana Tech] did a fantastic job of being physical around the paint,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “In the second half, whenever we looked to make a run, they made a big three. Unfortunately, we came up short, and they went down the stretch and made a bunch of free throws.”

North Texas (15-17, 8-10) was led by sophomore guards Ryan Woolridge and Roosevelt Smart who both posted 20 points. The rest of the team combined to score 22 points on 21 shots and never found rhythm against the Bulldogs’ (17-15, 7-11) defense.

“Their size and athleticism really caused us problems as we got deep into the shot clock,” McCasland said. “They put a lot of pressure on Ryan to go make a play. We got good movement, but to their credit, they were more physical than we were.”

Louisiana Tech recorded five blocks, and they had the ability to pressure the ball handlers and still be able to recover and take away passing lanes.

Offensively, the Bulldogs’ guards always came up with big shots when they needed them. Jacobi Boykins finished the game with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting and Derric Jean had 17 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field.

Even when the Mean Green did manage to get to the free throw line, they shot 10-of-17 while Louisiana Tech shot 20-26 — keeping the game out of reach for Woolridge and company.

“They spread the floor, they can shoot the ball and they can drive it, so you don’t really know what to play them for,” Woolridge said. “They switched it up on us, they were hitting threes and we just couldn’t stop them.”

The home court advantage was certainly in effect for North Texas as they seemed to feed off of the crowd until the Bulldogs silenced them with either a 3-pointer or a defensive play.

“The atmosphere was really great,” Woolridge said. “That definitely influenced us to push over those runs, but we just couldn’t execute at the end.”

The loss finishes the Mean Green’s season at 15-17 overall in McCasland’s first year, and it’s one that he will be sure to use as a building block as he continues his tenure — especially since he returns all but two players from this roster next season.

“I just told them that these are tough moments and that God has a plan for this team,” McCasland said. “We’re going to be great and it starts on the backs of [seniors] Bryce and Shane, and it starts tomorrow.”

Featured image: North Texas sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart shoots the ball in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament against Louisiana Tech on Mar. 7 at The Star in Frisco. Sara Carpenter

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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