The San Francisco Dons took a 1-0 series lead over the North Texas Mean Green in the 2018 CBI Finals after winning 72-62 at home at War Memorial Gymnasium.
The two teams will meet again Wednesday for Game 2 at UNT Coliseum in Denton, Texas.
Chase Foster and Jordan Ratinho led San Francisco in scoring with 17 points, and Foster had 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
Zachary Simmons had a monster performance in a losing effort for North Texas. He finished with 10 points and 22 rebounds, which were a CBI record, according to North Texas' official Twitter account.
Entering Monday night, three-point shooting wasn't a strength for San Francisco. The Dons ranked 109th in made three-pointers (8.3 per game) and 258th in three-point percentage (33.4).
As a result, North Texas head coach Grant McCasland likely didn't game-plan for San Francisco going 12-of-18 from beyond the arc in the first half. To put that number in perspective, USF had 16 made field goals in total through the first half.
San Francisco jumped out to a 27-9 lead in the first eight minutes of the first half and was up 46-30 entering the locker room at halftime.
Not surprisingly, the Dons' hot shooting regressed to the mean in the second half. They finished shooting 38.2 percent from the floor and 42.4 percent from the perimeter. The Associated Press' Josh Dubow noted their work on the boards was a big reason they maintained a double-digit lead for much of the half:
Even with Simmons bossing the glass, San Francisco had 14 offensive rebounds as a team.
North Texas cut the deficit to eight points, 61-53, with 4:15 remaining in the game but was unable to get any closer. A dunk from Matt McCarthy and a three-pointer from Foster got the Dons back up 13 points, 66-53, with 2:31 left, which extinguished any hopes of a Mean Green comeback.
Despite the defeat, North Texas should feel relatively good about its chances of coming back and winning the CBI title.
North Texas President Neal Smatresk is confident in the team:
Not only do the Mean Green have the next game at home, but they'd also play a decisive third game in Denton. North Texas is 12-6 at home, compared to 6-11 on the road. San Francisco, meanwhile, is 4-7 away from War Memorial Gymnasium.
Most importantly, the Mean Green outscored the Dons 32-26 in the second half after the Dons ceased shooting at a rate well beyond their season average.
San Francisco is in the driver's seat by virtue of Monday's win, but momentum could shift in a big way if North Texas evens the series Wednesday.