Lawson's Heroics Fuel Overtime Win Over Indiana State
Smart Posts Team-High 22 Points
DENTON - North Texas outlasted Indiana State, 79-76, in overtime at the Super Pit on Wednesday night. Roosevelt Smart had 20 of his team-high 22 points in the second half and overtime, including five crucial free throws in the final period.
"I just made shots," Smart said. "Ryan did a good job of looking for me. Even though I had a rough first half, I just kept playing and made shots."
Four of the Mean Green's five starters finished in double-digits as A.J. Lawson and Shane Temara had 18 points each, and Zach Simmons added 10 points. Smart led the team with a career-high nine rebounds, and Ryan Woolridge registered six assists.
"One area that was good for us was that they got points from the free throw line," North Texas head coach Grant McCasland said. "I've got to give credit to Rose's play on defense, which allowed us to play in transition."
North Texas started with hot hands from the field, hitting four of their first five to go ahead 9-5, but a stretch of five missed field goals allowed ISU to draw the game even at 9-9. A trio of Sycamore turnovers propelled a 6-0 run to give the Mean Green their largest lead of the half.
The shooting went cold once again for North Texas, going scoreless for nearly four minutes, while ISU rattled off a 10-0 run behind eight points for Qiykar Davis. After the Mean Green tied it at 23-all on a Simmons jumper, the Sycamores closed the half with seven straight points from Tyreke Key.
"We didn't execute very well early," McCasland said. "We had five or so plays that we completely botched. It took us a while to get into a rhythm."
Out of the break, ISU hit five of their first nine to extend the lead to 44-34, but were infected by the cold-shooting bug for three minutes as North Texas closed the score to 44-40. Trailing 53-44, Smart put up five straight for the Mean Green to pull within four, followed by another Sycamore turnover that led to a Temara basket.
"Every possession was just about getting a basket," McCasland said. "There wasn't a formula to it."
The North Texas defense stepped up in the final minutes, holding ISU to just one field goal over the final four minutes, and a Lawson layup made it a one-point game at 66-65. After the Sycamores sank their free throws, Lawson hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
"We ran a play, our end of the clock play, where Ryan dribbles and kicks it if he can," Lawson said. "It was designed for Rose to take the last shot, but coach always tells us if we can knock it out with a couple seconds and still get a shot off. Shane got the rebound and threw it to me, and I just knocked it down."
A Temara three-pointer gave the Mean Green a 74-73 lead, their first lead since they led 17-11 in the first half. A crucial block by Simmons and Smart shooting 5-of-6 from the charity stripe in overtime helped North Texas build a 79-74 lead, and the Mean Green held off ISU in the final seconds.
"In those moments, I'm just focused on making free throws," Smart said. "I practice them everyday, so they're not a big deal to me.
North Texas stays at the Super Pit to host McNeese State at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
- The Mean Green are off to their best start at home since 2014 (5-1).
- Wednesday marked the first overtime game of the year and the largest comeback (10).
- Simmons has now started five straight games for North Texas.
- Smart's streak of made free throws came to an end at 27 in overtime.
- With three blocks, Simmons set a new career high.