In typical North Texas versus UALR fashion, it came down to the last shot. Unfortunately for the Mean Green basketball team it was the Trojans that came away winners, 78-77 in overtime at the Jack Stephens Center.
Tristan Thompson powered the Mean Green (8-7, 1-3 Sun Belt) attack in the extra frame, pouring in six straight points for NT. But tied at 78 apiece with 1.9 seconds left in overtime, UALR’s (10-5, 3-1 Sun Belt) Steven Moore drove to the left block and drew a foul.
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Moore hit one of his free throws to leave the door open for North Texas, but Collin Mangrum’s half-court in-bounds pass was intercepted, and UALR escaped. The last three meetings between these two programs have now been decided by a total of eight points.
“Both teams dug and played great on the defensive end of the floor,” said North Texas head coach Johnny Jones. “We knew that would be where this game would be won, but tonight we just came up a little short.”
Eric Tramiel led all scorers with a career-best 21-points, just missing another double-double with eight rebounds. The junior has been a play or two shy of a double-double on six occasions this year, including his last three games.
North Texas worked the low post to perfection against the Trojans, with Tramiel and Kedrick Hogans leading the charge. North Texas hit 62 percent of its two-point field goal attempts, but couldn’t knock down its outside shot. NT hit just 1-of-8 (12.5 percent) from 3-point in the first half and 2-of-17 (11.8 percent) for the game.
North Texas led by as much as eight in the first, but went into the break with a 44-42 lead after UALR’s Steven Moore hit a runner at the buzzer.
Tramiel and company had every answer for the Trojans in the second. The Paris JC transfer ended a 6-0 UALR run with a tough layup that fouled out UALR’s Shane Edwards with just under four minutes remaining. Just a minute later, Josh White drilled a 3-pointer and drew a foul mid-stroke. The reigning Sun Belt Freshman of the Year brought NT back to within a point at 68-67 with 2:50 remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Tristan Thompson dove on a loose ball to give North Texas possession, and the Mean Green once again went to Tramiel on the low block. The junior answered with a turn-around layup on the glass to put NT in front once again.
UALR’s Matt Mouzy tied the game with a free throw, and Dominique Johnson’s 15-foot jumper on the other end rimmed out. John Fowler tried a runner for the Trojans at the buzzer, but missed to send the game into overtime.
North Texas returns home for a three-game home stand, beginning with Arkansas State on Saturday night. Tip off is schedule for 7 p.m. from the Super Pit.