Poor free throw shooting dooms men’s basketball against Old Dominion

Poor free throw shooting dooms men’s basketball against Old Dominion

Poor free throw shooting dooms men’s basketball against Old Dominion
January 06
21:44 2018

Coming off of a heart-wrenching loss to Charlotte, North Texas found itself in a similar position Saturday night against Old Dominion University.

The Mean Green once again got off to a slow start and 19-9 early before climbing back in to cut the deficit to one with just seconds to go in the fourth quarter. But North Texas was unable to complete the comeback, ultimately falling to the Monarchs 63-60.

The loss emphasizes a struggle North Texas has had all season at the free throw line. The team shot 17-of-29 from the charity stripe while Old Dominion was 19-of-24.

“We’re not making free throws and it’s demoralizing at times,” head coach grant McCasland said. “You can see the competitiveness our team shows, I like the fight. We’ve got to improve at the free throw line and we’ve got to work to get there.”

The Monarchs had the edge in experience going in as they started three juniors and two seniors while Mean Green rolled out three sophomores, a freshman and a senior.

It especially showed in the post in the play as Old Dominion forward Trey Porter finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

 “It was just his physicality when he posted up,” freshman forward Zachary Simmons said. “There were a lot of times where we were caught off guard when he ducked in and once he caught it in the post he was getting fouled and finishing.”

North Texas shot 7-of-20 from 3-point land behind sophomore guard Roosevelt Smart and junior guard Jorden Duffy, who hit three apiece.

Those 3-pointers were essential in the late comeback after the Mean Green found themselves down 10 with 5:41 left in the second half. As a young team, the up and down play has been rough as Conference USA play is now in full stride

“Duff hadn’t been playing worth a junk,” McCasland said. “We get him back and he started playing well in the second half and you start seeing some of our improvements as a team. Like the fact we keep seeing guys play better. Tope [Arikawe] played great. Duffy played great. 

Arikawe is essentially the third big and the first forward off the bench for McCasland. He provided valuable minutes at the center position defending Porter and he led the team in plus/minus for the second consecutive game (+9).

With Arikawe, Duffy and junior guard Allante Holston all playing big minutes off the bench, McCasland sees promise in his depth as the team enters a pivotal stretch of road games in the coming weeks.

“For us, we hadn’t had that kind of scoring off the bench,” McCasland said. “We ended up with 17 points off the bench and they had three. Those are reasons to be excited. It’s just frustration over the fact we didn’t make free throws.”

The loss puts North Texas back at .500 in Conference USA after the Mean Green started 2-0 on the road.

The team is now 5-3 in games decided by five or fewer points and close games have turned into the norm as the young roster continues to grow.

“This game, last game they’ve all been really close games,” sophomore Ryan Woolridge said. “To lose by one possession is devastating. We came out too slow, we should have come out right away hitting and that would have had a big impact.”

Next up: North Texas heads to Houston to face Rice University at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Featured image: University of North Texas Mean Green Men’s Basketball v Old Dominion University at the Super Pit in Denton on January 6, 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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