DENTON, Tex. — In the second game of a two-game Texas swing, the visiting Bethune-Cookman Wildcats were looking for a better result this time out.
Against the UTRGV Vaqueros on Monday night, a strong first half for the home side put the Wildcats behind the eight-ball, and they weren’t able to recover. The Vaqueros knocked off Bethune-Cookman, 92-74.
Thursday night, the Wildcats were looking to earn a split in the state of Texas, as they squared off against the North Texas Mean Green in Denton. The Mean Green were coming off a road loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and were looking forward to playing at home once again.
North Texas held a nine-point lead after the first half, at 42-33, but pulled away early in the second frame.
The home side opened the second half on a 19-3 run, and the Wildcats were unable to recover. North Texas bounced back from their loss, holding down their home court and notching a 90-78 victory over Bethune-Cookman.
Shawntrez Davis opened the scoring for the Wildcats in the first minute of the game, and things were off and rolling. The teams were neck-and-neck for most of the first half, with the Mean Green maintaining a lead for the majority of the half following Davis’ basket.
North Texas would extend their lead to as many as 12 points in the first frame. A three-point play from Roosevelt Smart with three seconds left in the half gave the Mean Green a 42-30 lead. However, Malik Maitland responded with a three to beat the buzzer for the Wildcats, trimming the deficit down to single digits and giving the visitors a shot of momentum heading into the break.
Out of the gates in the second, it was the Mean Green who came out with all of the momentum.
Over the first five minutes of the second half, North Texas went on a 19-3 run to extend their lead to 25 points, at 61-36. Layups from both Allante Houston and Ryan Woolridge capped off the run, which was ended by a three pointer from Isaiah Bailey.
The Wildcats continued to fight, and were finally able to trim the deficit down to single digits. A layup from Davis with 1:36 to play in the game cut the lead down to eight points, but that was as close as they would get.
Smart scored the last eight points for North Texas, sealing the deal in the process for the home side.
Bethune-Cookman put up a good fight down the stretch, but fell to the Mean Green in the end, 90-78.
It was a balanced effort on offense for both teams on the night, as a combined nine players scored in double-figures.
Bethune-Cookman had five players in double-digits, led by senior guard Brandon Tabb, who had a team-high 20 points and six rebounds. Shawntrez Davis (12 points, 14 rebounds) and Soufiyane Diakite (10 points, 10 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles in the loss.
Four players scored in double-figures for the Mean Green. Roosevelt Smart led the way with a game-high 22 points, eight of which came in the final two minutes of the game. A.J. Lawson had 19 points and seven rebounds, while Ryan Woolridge had 18 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
The loss was the second-straight for Bethune-Cookman (1-2), and the road swing doesn’t get any easier. The Wildcats square off with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Sunday afternoon.
Following their loss to Nebraska, North Texas (2-1) bounced back in convincing fashion on Thursday. They welcome the aforementioned UTRGV Vaqueros to town on Monday night.
– T. Bennett