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Ranking the top five most exciting North Texas sports games of 2016

Ranking the top five most exciting North Texas sports games of 2016

North Texas junior kicker Trevor Moore (30) celebrates on the sideline after hitting the game tying field goal with 28 seconds left in the game against Army to force overtime in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

Ranking the top five most exciting North Texas sports games of 2016
March 29
15:39 2017

For North Texas athletics, 2016-2017 marked a year of substantial improvement in two of three major sports, as both the football and women’s basketball team took big steps in the right direction.

The men’s basketball team was a disappointment in Tony Benford’s final season as head coach, but freshmen Ryan Woolridge and A.J. Lawson provided flashes of greatness throughout the year.

With the three major sports in the book, the North Texas Daily is taking a look back at the five most exciting games of the year.

5. Women’s basketball – North Texas 58, UTSA 55 (OT)

Prior to this season, the Mean Green women’s basketball program hadn’t won an overtime game since the 2007 season. This win over the University of Texas at San Antonio marked the third time this year, all on the road, that the Mean Green walked away with a win in an extra period.

North Texas trailed by three with less than two minutes to go and sharpshooter Candice Adams had an open look from behind the 3-point line that would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter.

Uncharacteristically, Adams misfired. It looked as though UTSA was going to hold on for the win.

But after Kelsey Criner knocked down two free throws to bring the game back within three points with just seven seconds remaining, Adams got her chance at redemption. In a play that was eerily similar to the Mean Green’s last second win over Southern Methodist University at the Super Pit a year ago, Adams got the ball on a drive and kick-out pass with a chance to send the game to overtime.

This time, she knocked it down and gave North Texas the energy and momentum needed to come away with a win in OT. The win marked the fifth straight for the Mean Green, giving Mitchell’s team its longest winning streak since the 2013 season.

Game recap: Matt Brune | Staff Writer
http://ntdaily.com/womens-basketball-knocks-off-utsa-in-ot-extends-win-streak-to-five/

4. Men’s basketball – San Diego 69, North Texas 68

It’s tough seeing a loss among the most exciting games of the year, but it won’t be the last game on the list that resulted in heartbreak for the Mean Green. At this point in the season, there was still some hope that the team could get going. North Texas entered the game against University of San Diego with a 6-5 record and had the opportunity to go to two games over .500 before the holiday break.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

North Texas and San Diego exchange words following the game. San Diego won on a controversial charge call, ending the game 69-68. Colin Mitchell

Some might say this was when the season began to completely derail. The Mean Green trailed by as many as 20 points in the game but stormed back to take a two-point lead with 28 seconds left. Somehow, the defense managed to leave Olin Carter III wide open on the 3-point line on the ensuing possession, and Carter hit a go-ahead 3-pointer to reclaim the lead with seven seconds left.

That’s when the madness began. J-Mychal Reese grabbed the inbounds pass for North Texas and sprinted down the court, hitting a short runner with one second left to seemingly win the game. However, Reese was called for a questionable charge that negated the basket and effectively ended the game.

The call – and the exchange of words that followed – ignited one of the few postgame scuffles in recent memory on the court. It was a heartbreaking finish, but it was still one of the most exciting games at the Super Pit. The loss was the start of an 11-game losing streak for the Mean Green.

Game recap: Colin Mitchell | Visuals Editor
http://ntdaily.com/controversial-call-halts-mens-basketballs-rally-sparks-scuffle-in-loss-to-san-diego/

3. Women’s basketball – North Texas 65, UAB 62 (2OT)

After limping into the Conference USA tournament, Mitchell and the women’s basketball team somehow managed to survive a wild 50-minutes of opening round action against the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The teams limped down the stretch of the fourth quarter before Terriell Bradley, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, knocked down two free throws to put North Texas up three points with just six seconds remaining.

The win gave the team a postseason victory for the second straight year and moved the Mean Green to 4-0 in overtime on the season – which is extremely noteworthy after North Texas went 0-2 in overtime games during Mitchell’s first season.

The Mean Green went on to fall to Western Kentucky University in the second round of the tournament, but the double-overtime win goes down as one of the biggest for Mitchell in her short time at the helm of the program.

Game recap: Matt Brune | Staff Writer
http://ntdaily.com/womens-basketball-outlasts-uab-in-double-overtime-thriller-advances-to-c-usa-quarterfinals/

2. Football – North Texas 42, Rice 35 (2OT)

If this game had been at Apogee Stadium, it would be almost impossible to move it from the top spot on this list. It was without a doubt the most exciting win of the season in any sport, but ranks second simply because of the magnitude of the bowl game later in the year.

A loss to Rice to open Conference USA play would have been catastrophic for the Mean Green, as it would have dropped the team to 1-3 and 0-1 in C-USA play with a freshman quarterback at the helm of the offense. This served as a huge momentum builder and really set the tone for the rest of the conference season.

North Texas got off to an abysmal start in the game and trailed 17-0 early in the game. But freshman Mason Fine and junior Jeffrey Wilson didn’t let the slow start determine the finish, as the two combined for almost 400 yards of offense and four touchdowns.

The Mean Green took a 28-20 lead at one point, but Rice answered with a touchdown run from inside the five-yard line and converted the two-point conversion to tie the game. Both teams scored on the opening possession of overtime and Willy Ivery punched in his third touchdown of the day in the second overtime.

North Texas then got its signature moment of the season when senior Jareid Combs exploded through the Rice offensive line to stop Darik Dillard on fourth and inches to end the game.

Game recap: Clay Massey | Senior Staff Writer
http://ntdaily.com/north-texas-football-caps-ferocious-rally-with-double-overtime-road-victory/

1. Football – Army 38, North Texas 31 (OT)

It was a tough decision ranking this game over the thrilling 2OT win against Rice simply because it ended in heartbreak for the Mean Green and all the fans that made the short trip to Dallas.

But it’s hard to deny the excitement and the electric atmosphere that was present in the Cotton Bowl as the Mean Green competed in the Heart of Dallas Bowl just a year removed from a dismal 1-11 record. It was undoubtedly the most important game of the year, and just making it to the game was a win for first-year head coach Seth Littrell and the football program.

Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw (17) gets tackled inside North Texas’ 5-yard line in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

North Texas fought back to force the game into overtime, but was unable to stop the high-powered Army triple-option attack from getting into the end zone on fourth and goal inside the five-yard line. Senior quarterback Alec Morris had a shot at the end zone on fourth down on the ensuing overtime possession, but was unable to connect with Thaddeous Thompson.

Regardless of the result, an overtime finish in a bowl game is a hard performance to pass up as the most exciting game of the year. The Mean Green needed a last second field goal to go to overtime, had a chance to stop Army on a fourth down gamble to open the extra period and fell just short of matching with a touchdown of their own.

Game recap: Reece Waddell | Sports Editor
http://ntdaily.com/lackluster-defense-dooms-north-texas-in-heart-of-dallas-bowl-loss-to-army/

Featured Image: North Texas junior kicker Trevor Moore (30) celebrates on the sideline after hitting the game tying field goal with 28 seconds left in the game against Army to force overtime in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Brady Keane

Brady Keane

Brady Keane is the Sports Editor of the North Texas Daily. He previously served as Deputy Sports Editor (Jan. 2017-May 2017) and as a Staff Writer (Aug. 2015-May 2016).

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