North Texas Daily

Recap: Men’s basketball sees historic season end with loss to No. 5-seed Villanova

Recap: Men’s basketball sees historic season end with loss to No. 5-seed Villanova

Recap: Men’s basketball sees historic season end with loss to No. 5-seed Villanova
March 22
00:57 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — A hot offensive night from No. 5-seed Villanova University was too much for the men’s basketball team to overcome on Sunday night as it fell to the Wildcats by a score of 84-61.

The loss came two days after North Texas (18-10, 9-5 Conference USA) upset No. 4-seed Purdue University (18-10, 13-6 Big Ten Conference) in the NCAA tournament’s opening round, winning a 78-69 overtime thriller for the first NCAA tourney victory in program history.

“People wonder how you win these games, how do you set records, how do you have the best finish in school history, first [NCAA] tournament win in school history,” Head coach Grant McCasland said. “It’s because these guys really do spend an inordinate amount of time working and putting their heart and soul into it. Just a remarkable run and it’s rooted in hard work. They believe in each other, they serve each other and they compete, which is what we push ’em to do every day. I love this group and they’ll be one of the best in the history of the school, if not the best.”

Appearing to be on the verge of tears at times during his postgame interview, McCasland said he had a hard time going into the locker room after the game because he did not want to see the team’s run end.

“Honestly, I wanted to stay in the coaches’ room the whole time because I didn’t want to end it,” McCasland said. “These kind of teams, you don’t want ’em to end, you don’t want it to stop. The moment you have to walk in there, we have to talk about what they mean to us and the words don’t do it. The words don’t do it. That senior group […] the work they’ve put in and what they’ve done as a group, I just tried to tell ’em how much I love them. This is one of the hardest moments of coaching and the worst part of it, ’cause the season ends abruptly and you don’t anticipate it happening ’cause everybody believed we were going to win.”

Throughout the game, Villanova (18-6, 11-4 Big East Conference) saw success from behind the 3-point arc in making 15-of-30 (50 percent) 3-pointers. Nine of the 15 makes came in the first half, fueling the Wildcats’ 47-27 advantage at the halftime break.

“Villanova’s a great team, well-coached, their coach is going to be in the Hall of Fame,” Hamlet said. “They made a lot of 3-pointers, it’s like they hit every shot they threw up. We got to give credit to them, […] give credit where credit is due.

Both teams came out of the gates hot and the Mean Green led early on as a pair of baskets by Hamlet and senior forward Thomas Bell put them up 4-0. North Texas held a 21-13 advantage with 11:32 left in the first half, their largest lead of the game.

After the hot start for North Texas, Villanova went on a run of its own and took its first lead at 23-22 with 8:39 to go before halftime. The Wildcats finished the first half on a 34-6 run and never looked back. With the 20-point halftime lead, Villanova stayed on the gas the rest of the way and ultimately won by 23 points, 84-61.

Hamlet said he is proud of the team’s performance despite how the season ended.

“I ain’t got anything to hang my head over,” Hamlet said. “We let the world know who UNT is. It just hurts because some of us will never play with each other again and we’re all like brothers in that locker room.”

Courtesy Mean Green 247

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John Fields

John Fields

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