SAN ANTONIO — Sophomore A.J. Lawson hit the eventual game-winning jumper with a minute left, and senior Shane Temara had a key block to give North Texas its second straight one-point road win, a 72-71 decision against Texas-San Antonio on Saturday at the Convocation Center.
"Our team really wants to win," UNT coach Grant McCasland said. "There's a lot of belief and a lot of togetherness and even when things aren't going our way there's a sense of urgency in the way our guys are playing. Shane did a good job blocking the shot and that's just a hustle play that wins you the game."
The Mean Green trailed by seven at halftime and rallied for another one-point win to start Conference USA play 2-0 for the first time. North Texas has won two straight road games to open league play for the first time since 1991.
"In order to win on the road you have to be tough," McCasland said. "This team is getting tougher each game and I am so proud of how we are coming together."
In a game that came down to the wire, UTSA's Jhivvan Jackson made a layup to tie the score at 70 with 1:30 left. With the shot clock winding down, Lawson calmly drove a made a layup to put North Texas (9-6, 2-0) ahead for good at 72-70.
Jackson hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to 72-71 with 47 seconds left. The Roadrunners got a stop on the defensive end, and Byron Frohnen drove the lane with 12 seconds left, but Temara came up with a huge block.
Junior guard Allante Holston missed the front end of a one-and-one, and UTSA had another look to win the gamem but Giovanni De Nicolao's layup attempt rimmed off after Holston contested it.
Sophomore Roosevelt Smart finished with a game-high 22 points with three 3-pointers for UNT. Sophomore Ryan Woolridge added 18 points, including 14 in the second half and grabbed five rebounds. Lawson had 14 points and six rebounds.
North Texas started the second half fast with a 10-3 run to tie the game at 44-44. Woolridge set the tone offensively with a bunch of timely buckets. Woolridge was 6-for-8 in the second half alone.
With 7:22 remaining, the Mean Green built an eight point lead at 66-58 off a jumper by Woolridge. The Roadrunners wouldn't go away, cutting the lead to four points off a jumper by Jackson with 3:41 left. UTSA was held to zero fast break points and shot only 1-for-7 from downtown in the second half.
Jackson also missed four huge free throws in the second half. North Texas went 12-for-16 from the foul line thanks to Smart's 9-for-10 effort.
Smart led all scorers with 14 points in the first half and was 7-for-8 from the free throw line to keep North Texas within seven points at the brak. UTSA's Keaton Wallace had 11 points off three three-pointers.
The Roadrunners shot 45.2 percent from the field in the opening half and hit five 3-pointers. The Mean Green struggled from deep going 3-for-15.
North Texas took an early 6-5 lead off a free throw by sophomore Ryan Woolridge at the 17:12 mark. UTSA went on a 6-0 run to pull ahead 11-5 off a three-pointer by Jhivvan Jackson.
The Mean Green cut the lead to two points at 13-11 off a jumper by junior Allante Holston. The Roadrunners responded with a 9-0 run to lead by 11 points 22-11 with 11:44 on the clock.
UTSA held its largest lead at 38-25 with 4:41 remaining in the half. The Mean Green kept fighting by ending the half on a 9-3 run capped by a last second jumper from Smart on a fast break.