The Coyotes’ bid in the College Basketball Invitational came to an end after a loss to the North Texas Mean Green in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center Wednesday night.
Following the loss against South Dakota State University at the Summit League Tournament finals in Sioux Falls, the Coyotes sought after another chance to play.
The Coyotes were beat 77-90 after a tough Mean Green offense that didn’t slow down during the game.
The beginning of the game saw both teams leading on and off, until the final 11 minutes of the first half, where the Mean Green took the lead for the remainder of the game.
The Coyotes struggled offensively and were even down 22 points in the second half. The Coyotes powered through the deficit and brought the score down by 10 in the last minute of the game, but could not overcome the Mean Green’s strong defense.
The Coyotes, who shot at 37.1 percent from the field and 18.2 percent three-pointers, were dominated by the Mean Green who shot at 42.4 percent from the field and 41.2 percent in three-pointers. North Texas’ Roosevelt Smart scored 34 points in the game.
Junior Matt Mooney led the Coyotes with 22 points and three assists. Junior Trey Burch-Manning and senior Nick Fuller each added 14 points to the score.
Burch-Manning said the game was a huge loss because the team “prides themselves on winning” at home.
“We always competed – our energy was really high,” Burch-Manning said. “One thing we can control is our energy, our competitive edge.”
Head coach Craig Smith said the Mean Green “really took it to the team.”
“We didn’t play normal basketball,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a difficult, difficult game. I wish I had gone deeper into the bench much earlier. It’s a good win for them.”
Senior Carlton Hurst said lack of energy hurt the team.
“We couldn’t really get going like we usually do,” Hurst said. “Shots weren’t falling for us.”
Burch-Manning said Wednesday’s loss is motivating him for next year, being a team leader.
“We just have to find the motivation and keep moving forward,” he said. “I won’t allow anyone to come in half-hearted and allow a performance like this.”
Fuller said the “heartbreak” from the last loss contributed to a lack of energy.
“We’re college basketball players and this is what we do, we have to be up and ready for our own teammates and especially for the fans,” Fuller said.
Smith said losing at home was “incredibly disappointing.”
“I want to credit our fans – they could sense we were struggling, and you could see that,” he said. “They were trying to will us and get us going.”
Smith said the team is determined after a successful season.
“It was a historic season,” he said. “It’s gonna get better in summer and better in offseason, and we will.”
The Coyotes finish 26-9 in the season.