After losing Game 1 of the best-of-three-series on Monday, the North Texas Mean Green evened the 2018 CBI Finals with a 69-55 victory over the San Francisco Dons on Wednesday night.
After the Dons jumped out to a 16-point halftime lead in Game 1 en route to a 72-62 victory, this matchup was a battle early on—and then it was all Mean Green.
Playing on its home court, North Texas threatened to run away with this one early, taking an 11-point lead, 27-16, with 8:13 left in the first half. That strong start had school president Neal Smatresk fired up:
However, as the CBI tournament's Twitter account noted, it was a back-and-forth game early on:
San Francisco chipped away and tied things up, 31-31, just before the half. Of course, it helped that North Texas went 0-of-11 during a seven-minute bucket drought.
Fans looking at the box score may have been surprised to see the Mean Green holding a two-point lead at the break. While San Francisco shot 50 percent from the floor and made six three-pointers, North Texas shot just 37 percent with only two triples in the opening half. However, a 22-13 edge in rebounds and six Dons turnovers helped the Mean Green overcome a tough shooting performance.
North Texas put its struggles behind it coming out of the locker room. A quick 10-0 run gave the Mean Green a 12-point lead five minutes into the second half.
The Mean Green would control the game from that point on, building an 18-point lead, 63-45, as the game went on. The Dons cooled off from the field (35 percent from the floor in the second half) and turned the ball over 16 times.
Despite being outshot 9-2 from beyond the arc, North Texas' ability to control the paint—plus-12 on the glass and three blocks—proved to be key.
Four different North Texas players scored in double figures, with junior guard Jorden Duffy (15 points and nine rebounds) flirting with a double-double. Freshman guard Souley Boum led San Francisco with 16 points off the bench.
After the game, as Hank Dickenson captured in a video, there was a cool scene that showed what makes the UNT Coliseum a fun place for a basketball game:
North Texas improved to 13-6 at home this season, while San Francisco is 4-8 on the road. Those trends held true on Wednesday and could play a factor in Friday night's winner-take-all championship game on the same court in Denton, Texas.
Game 3 tips off at 7 p.m. ET on Friday (ESPNU).