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Men’s basketball: Columbia holds off UNT

PORTLAND, Ore. — In 2011, Columbia outshot a young North Texas team with 12 makes from 3-point range. On Thursday in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the Lions had nearly that many 3-pointers by halftime and held off a furious Mean Green rally for a 70-66 win at the Chiles Center.

Columbia (2-2) hit 11 of 15 from deep in the first half before Vertrail Vaughns and the Mean Green (2-2) woke up. Vaughns, who was scoreless at the break, exploded for 18 points in the second half, including 13 points in the final six minutes to put North Texas back into the game.

Vaughns’ second 3-pointer cut the Columbia lead to two points with 5:45 remaining, and his last offering from deep with 1:08 on the clock made it 69-66. Brandan Walton had a deep look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, but it clanged out.

“We emphasized to our guys before the game that Columbia is a great 3-point shooting team,” North Texas coach Tony Benford said. “I give them credit. They were able to get us out of our rotations in both man and zone defense, and we simply have to be better at taking that scouting report to the floor. Vertrail did a great job for us today. He continues to hit big shots on the offensive end but was just as good on the defensive end of the floor.”

Maodo Lo (23 points) and Grant Mullins (18 points) led Columbia, which shot 47.1 percent from the floor, including 54.5 percent from downtown.

The Mean Green continues play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic with a game against Idaho at 6:30 p.m. today.