North Texas Daily

Recap: Men’s basketball sees late rally fall short, splits with Thundering Herd

Recap: Men’s basketball sees late rally fall short, splits with Thundering Herd

Recap: Men’s basketball sees late rally fall short, splits with Thundering Herd
February 27
19:41 2021

It was a classic case of “too little, too late” on Saturday as the men’s basketball team fell to Marshall University by a score of 73-72.

Having trailed by 14 points with 9:27 remaining in the game, North Texas (13-7, 9-3 Conference USA) rallied and cut the deficit to two at 65-63 with 5:50 to go. After Marshall (13-6, 7-5 C-USA) regained a more substantial lead, the Mean Green rallied once again to cut the deficit to one point at 73-72 on a 3-pointer from senior guard Javion Hamlet with 40 seconds left. The Mean Green then made a crucial defensive stop and had a chance to win the game on a buzzer-beating floater from Hamlet, but it rimmed out and the comeback effort came up one point short.

“It’s a down locker room, they know we let one get away,” Head coach Grant McCasland said. “We got a few stops at the end of the game, and I thought we put ourselves in position, got some pretty good looks. Then we just had a few costly turnovers at the end where we didn’t even get shots up, but we can learn from it.”

The loss dropped North Texas to No. 2 in the C-USA West Division behind Louisiana TechUniversity (19-6, 12-4) and means North Texas must sweep its final series against the University of Alabama at Birmingham to earn the top spot in the division. A split against the Blazers (19-6, 11-5) would drop the Mean Green to No. 2 in the division while two losses against UAB would send North Texas to No. 3 in the West.

“We got to win two,” Senior guard James Reese said. “It’s all on the line. This is my last year, J-Ham’s last year, JJ’s last year, Zach’s last year, Thomas’ last year. Everything is on the line. I’m sure it’s the same for the other team, but everything on the line on our home floor, we’re ready. We’re gonna get ready and we’re trying to get us another one [conference title].”

One key difference for North Texas from Friday’s win was the hustle stats. On Friday, the Mean Green outrebounded the Herd 38-24, including 8-to-5 on the offensive glass, and scored 10 second-chance points to Marshall’s five. That script was flipped on Saturday as Marshall tied in the rebounding battle (31-to-31) and converted seven offensive rebounds into eight second-chance points.

“It started in the first half, we just didn’t play North Texas basketball,” Reese said. “We didn’t execute well, we just weren’t the most physical team. Yesterday, we led in all the physical categories — rebounding, offensive rebounding and [second-chance] points. We didn’t lead in any of that today, so that’s the reason we lost.”

A key contributor to North Texas’ rally, Hamlet scored 24 of his 28 points in the second half, including several key baskets down the stretch to keep the Mean Green in it. Reese also finished with 15 points, four rebounds, a block and a steal.

Senior forward Zachary Simmons reached a career milestone in the loss, tallying his 700th career rebound early in the first half. Simmons finished the game with four points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Up Next: Men’s basketball returns home for its final series of C-USA play on March 5 and 6 as it hosts Alabama-Birmingham (19-5, 11-5 C-USA) in a pivotal pair of games.

Featured Image: Senior guard James Reese looks to pass the ball to an open teammate against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 6, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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