Furious rally fall short in last second Dogs loss

Cobe Williams scored 17 points in Wednesday night’s 67-65 loss at North Texas. (Photo by Kane McGuire)

Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications

DENTON, Texas – History repeated itself as Louisiana Tech and North Texas went down to the wire again.

After the Bulldogs erased an 18-point deficit to tie it up with 18 seconds to go, the Mean Green hit a contested jumper at the end to come away with a 67-65 win on Wednesday night inside the Super Pit.

“I felt like we did an unbelievable job of executing down the stretch,” said Tech head coach Talvin Hester. “The guys did what they did best. They followed the game plan. I do not think we followed the game plan in the first half. I think we tried to do our own thing too much and did not give the effort and energy we needed to in order to guard a really good team. The came out in the second half and did what we asked them to do. They fought till the end. I am so proud of them.”

LA Tech (10-7, 3-3 C-USA) was out of sorts in the first half, in particular the final 10 minutes. After Keaston Willis knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to even things at 14-14, North Texas (14-3, 5-1 C-USA) closed the stanza on a 22-4 run to take a 36-18 advantage into the locker room.

After closing the half just 2-of-13 from the field, the Bulldogs regrouped and recharged at the break.

It was an immediate response too for the visiting team as the ‘Dogs ignited for an 8-0 run that was capped off by Isaiah Crawford’s fifth steal, which led to a fast-break dunk to force a timeout by the Mean Green.

LA Tech chipped away and chipped away and chipped away, getting it to a one-point game at 48-49 after Cobe Williams made a driving layup with 6:45 to go. North Texas countered with a quick 8-0 run to push its lead back out to nine.

The Bulldogs had one more run in them and that was because of Crawford. Down 53-61 with four minutes to go, the forward made 10 of the team’s final 12 points, including a pair of free throws with 18 ticks on the clock, to knot the game up at 65-all.

“Isaiah was really good,” said Hester. “He has been really good against North Texas before. When he is locked in, there are not many players better. We just have to get him to be more consistent. He has been with us a long time, but has not played a whole lot of basketball because of his injuries. I want him to grow from this and try to get repeat performances like this from him all the time.”

In the end though it was UNT’s Kai Huntsberry, who was just 2-of-8 shooting from the field, that made a midrange jumper from the baseline to break the tie. Williams attempted a three-pointer for the win from inside half court, but the ball bounced off the rim.

After scoring just 18 points in the first half, LA Tech exploded for 47 points in the second stanza to give itself a fighting chance against the defending C-USA regular season champions. Crawford finished with a game-high 25 points while Williams had 17 and Willis had 13.

UNT also had three players score in double figures, led by Tylor Perry who had 21.

The Bulldogs host UAB Saturday at 3 p.m.