North Texas Daily

Turnovers and a late run cost men’s basketball in loss to Florida International

Turnovers and a late run cost men’s basketball in loss to Florida International

February 11
23:27 2017

Two days removed from picking up their first conference win, the Mean Green men’s basketball team did battle with Florida International University in Miami. The Golden Panthers (6-19, 2-10) picked up their second conference win defeating the Mean Green (7-17, 1-11) 90-71.

FIU was led by a massive double-double effort from junior forward Elmo Stephen, who dropped 34 points while grabbing 12 boards. The Golden Panthers never trailed during the 40 minutes.

“[Stephen] really went off,” head coach Tony Benford said. “We couldn’t reel him in. We knew he was the guy. We wanted to shade him in our zone. He hit some big shots and got going.”

The Mean Green were also damaged by turnovers. North Texas coughed the ball up 21 times that FIU turned into 22 points. After clawing back into the game late, a lay-up by freshman guard Ryan Woolridge got the Mean Green within single-digits.

North Texas had a chance to pull even closer after an FIU turnover, but freshman guard A.J. Lawson’s pass caught Woolridge off guard and went out of bounds.

The Golden Panthers got the ball back, and went on a 14-2 run to close out the game.

“I was ready to catch and shoot,” Woolridge said of the miscue. “But I took a step when he drove and once he threw it I just wasn’t ready. I just said to myself, ‘dang it.’

Woolridge tied a career high with 21 points while Lawson added 13 points.

Stephen led FIU to a 38-28 half time lead with 20 first half points and five rebounds. The Golden Panthers took an early lead before the Mean Green popped off an 8-0 run to close the gap.

North Texas made 7-of-7 field goals late in the first half to help close the gap before halftime.

On the other side of halftime senior guard J-Mychal Reese scored the first two buckets of the second half on his way to 12 points for the day. But the Golden Panthers opened up a 22-point lead partially thanks to a 16-for-25 night from the free-throw line for North Texas.

But the Mean Green could not hang on to the ball.

“We were looking for each other,” Lawson said. “We tried to make the extra passes sometimes and we just struggled.”

North Texas now returns home for a four-game homestand starting with the University of Texas at El Paso at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

“[If] you take care of home court, you have a chance to get in,” Benford said. “That’s what I’m going to tell to them tonight. We’ve got to stay positive and see if we can go home and take it one game at a time.”

Featured image: North Texas sophomore Allante Holston (5) steps back after being forced out of the lane by Old Dominion University. Holston played 14 minutes. Colin Mitchell

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Clay Massey

Clay Massey

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