Late three sends UALR to Sun Belt title
Bozeman's 3-pointer sends Trojans to NCAA tournament
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Solomon Bozeman’s deep 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining gave Arkansas-Little Rock a 64-63 win against North Texas for the Sun Belt title on Tuesday night and sent the Trojans to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 21 years.
It’s the first conference tournament title in school history, and the NCAA trip is the first for the school since 1990.
North Texas (22-11), the defending tournament champion, led 59-52 with less than 2 minutes remaining. UALR (19-16) pulled within 62-61 with 17.6 seconds remaining on a 3-pointer by Matt Mouzy.
After Tristan Thompson put the Mean Green up 63-61 with a free throw with 7 seconds remaining, Bozeman took the inbound pass all the way up the court and hit the game-winning 3-pointer.
Alex Garcia-Mendoza then stole the inbound pass to secure the Trojans’ win and NCAA berth.
Bozeman, who finished with 20 points, went to the bench for the final 9:31 of the first half for UALR after being called for his second foul.
The game was tied 13-13 at the time, and North Texas later took advantage in using a 7-0 run to take a 25-19 lead.
Thompson scored five points during the run, which Kendrick Hogans capped with an inside basket on a delayed fast break for the Mean Green.
Even without Bozeman, the Sun Belt Player of the Year, the Trojans stormed back. UALR went on a 13-2 run to take a 32-27 lead late in the half after a layup off the glass by Marlon Louzeiro.
The Trojans shot just 13 of 31 (41.9 percent) in the first half, but they committed just three turnovers.
North Texas hit 11 of 22 shots (50 percent) in the first half, and closed the half with five consecutive points to tie the game at 32 at halftime.
The hot shooting didn’t carry over to start the second half for the Mean Green, who opened the second half 4 of 18 from the field.
Despite the poor shooting, North Texas appeared to have the game in hand when Josh White’s layup put the Mean Green up 59-52 with 1:42 remaining.
However, after a pair of North Texas turnovers the Trojans hit six free throws in a row to pull within 59-58.
White hit a deep 3-pointer to extend the lead to 62-58 with 30 seconds left, but Mouzy answered on the other end with a 3-pointer with 17.6 seconds remaining. Mouzy collected a steal on the inbound pass and had another 3-point attempt that missed and Thompson grabbed for the Mean Green and was fouled.
The North Texas senior, who hit a Sun Belt tournament record 20 of 20 free throws on Sunday, missed the first of his two attempts. He hit the second to put the Mean Green up 63-61 with 7 seconds left, which was more than enough time for Bozeman to take the ball up the court and hit the game winner.