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Backcourt Play Propels North Texas on Senior Day

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Led by a combined 45 points from it’s starting backcourt, North Texas was able to power through and secure the No.1 seed in Conference USA pod play after a 64-47 victory over Old Dominion on senior day.

“You just never think it’s gonna come so fast and the next thing you know it’s your [senior] day,” senior forward Deng Geu said. “Javion [Hamlet] had a great game … a lot of people stepped up and the young guys just sent us out on a great note.”

It’s the Mean Green’s first win over Old Dominion in program history and the 47 points are the fewest North Texas has allowed against a conference opponent under head coach Grant McCasland. 

Junior guard Javion Hamlet scored a career-high 27 points to go along with three assists and three rebounds. Hamlet was 8-11 from the field and converted on all 10 of his free throw attempts.

Following Hamlet’s performance, redshirt sophomore guard Umoja Gibson recorded 18 points and two steals while shooting 4 of 9 from the 3-point line.

It was a low scoring first half as both teams were tied at 15 with less than eight minutes remaining in the first half. But, North Texas was able to take advantage of some scoring opportunities and go into the half on a 13-2 run. 

Hamlet led all scorers with 13 entering the break, one of which was a deep 3-pointer right before the half ended.

The Mean Green played hard defensively, holding Old Dominion to 17 points on 24 percent shooting in the first half. The Monarchs finished the game shooting 36 percent from the field.

Meanwhile North Texas, which is ranked seventh in the nation in field goal percentage, shot a respectable 52.6 percent from the field and finished the game shooting 51.3 percent.

The Mean Green finished the game with 19 turnovers. In the first half alone, the team committed 11.

“Those turnovers are on me,” head coach Grant McCasland said. “I was trying to get them to be patient and keep moving the ball, but honestly, we had some pretty good looks that we probably should’ve just taken.”

Gibson got North Texas going early coming out of the half, hitting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give his team a 34-17 lead. Old Dominion had trouble getting baskets in the second half as well thanks to the Mean Green defense, which held their opponents to two assists and zero fastbreak points throughout the entire game. 

Meanwhile North Texas found a groove offensively and it carried over the rest of the half. Gibson and Hamlet scored 27 of their combined 45 points in the second half to propel North Texas past the defending champs in conference. 

“Everyone was hitting shots and getting involved,” senior guard DJ Draper said. “Our identity on the defensive end really showed tonight so that’s a good sign going into pod play.”

Junior forward Zachary Simmons had an uneasy day on the offensive end, recording one point while committing nine turnovers. Despite this, Simmons, along with junior forward Thomas Bell, recorded 10 and eight rebounds respectively. 

Old Dominion was one of the top rebounding teams in conference entering this game. Old Dominion senior forward Aaron Carver, who leads the conference with 10.3 rebounds, recorded four on Saturday.

“I’m just glad we got the dub … the crowd was great,” senior guard Roosevelt Smart said. “We just gotta keep this thing rolling. We know the ultimate goal is to win the conference championship and go to the tournament, so we just gotta keep focusing on that and keep playing the way we do.”

With the No. 1 seed in C-USA pod play, North Texas will host No. 2 Western Kentucky and No. 3 Louisiana Tech and travel to the No. 4 and No. 5 seeded teams. The exact dates and times of the games will be announced Sunday.

Featured Image: Redshirt junior guard Javion Hamlet finishes over Old Dominion defender on Feb. 15, 2020. Image by Zachary Thomas

Article Originally Published by Deondre Jones on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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