North Texas Daily

Second half struggles doom men’s basketball in loss to Louisiana Tech

Second half struggles doom men’s basketball in loss to Louisiana Tech

February 23
22:33 2017

Louisiana Tech University came to Denton on a six-game winning streak and used a huge second-half effort to extend it to seven after defeating the Mean Green 85-67 Thursday night.

The Bulldogs (21-8, 13-3) scored forty second-half points in under 12 minutes, quickly negating what had been a good start by North Texas (8-19, 2-13).

The Mean Green were outscored 53-35 in the final 20 minutes.

“I thought we came out and executed in the first half,” head coach Tony Benford said. “They put us in a tough spot and got some live ball turnovers. That really hurt us. You’re playing uphill if you get behind them. Give them credit.”

North Texas started strong with the help of freshman guard A.J. Lawson, who scored eight of the team’s first 10 points. Lawson had a team-high nine points in the first half before finishing the game with 15.

The Mean Green were able to break down the Bulldog defense in the early stages using quick passing, but senior guard J-Mychal Reese failed to tally an assist in the first half.

“We moved the ball,” Reese said. “They cleared the lane.”

LA Tech made an adjustment to a 1-3-1 zone after halftime to effectively shut down Lawson, who scored just six points after the break.

“They came out harder than us,” Lawson said. “They’re longer than us and finished better. They played great defense.”

The Bulldogs struggled shooting in the first half, going just 2-of-15 from 3-point land to open the game. They didn’t fare much better inside the arc, hitting just 14-of-39 attempts. The two sides were dead even on the scoreboard through 20 minutes.

But then the Bulldogs began to pour it on.

Out of the locker room, Louisana Tech opened the second half on a dominate run and outscored the Mean Green 21-9 over the first five minutes. The shooting woes that slowed the Bulldogs down in the first half then began to plague North Texas.

The Mean Green shot just 35 percent in the second half while Louisana Tech got hot. After a slow start to the game, the Bulldogs shot lights out with a 54 percent shooting mark from the floor and 45 percent clip from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes.

The gap quickly became too much for the Mean Green to overcome.

“These guys are working hard everyday,” Benford said. “It’s difficult when you don’t get rewarded. But they haven’t quit. That’s all you can ask for especially with the situation we’re in.”

The loss puts a damper on North Texas’ chances to sneak into the Conference USA tournament. The Mean Green were three games out of the final spot entering Thursday and now have just three games remaining in the regular season.

Next up: North Texas faces the University of Southern Mississippi at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Super Pit.

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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