Honolulu, Hawaii — North Texas faced second-half adversity for the first time this year and it came out victorious with a 78-73 win over Portland on Saturday in its second game of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Mean Green (3-0) held a nine-point lead at halftime and early in the second-half looked to be on the verge of blowing the game open but a scrappy Pilots (1-2) squad spread UNT out and hit opened shots and got to the rim.
"We executed down the stretch and that was great to see," said head coach Grant McCasland
. " Getting in foul trouble really took us out of our rhythm and we couldn't keep the hammer down on them and give Portland credit for that. But it was good for us to grind that kind of game out."
Freshman guard Umoja Gibson
entered the game averaging 27.5 points per game and jumped out of the gate on Saturday, scoring nine points in the game's first five minutes but ran into foul trouble and finished with the nine points and played just 16 minutes.
Down the stretch, North Texas' post players came away with big stops, such as senior Tope Arikawe
making a clutch block and Zachary Simmons
closing the game out with free throws and finishing with a career-high 23 points but also found himself in foul trouble when he picked up his fourth foul with eight minutes left in the game.
Junior Ryan Woolridge
played a game-high 37 minutes and was involved in every play down the stretch and finished with 22 points, dishing out eight assists and grabbing seven rebounds.
North Texas will play its final game of the classic on Sunday when it plays the host school Hawaii at 10:00 p.m. CT. The game will be streamed live on bigwest.tv.