MANHATTAN, Kan. – The University of Alabama in Huntsville men's basketball team made history on Monday night, becoming the first Division II team to play in an NIT Season Tip-Off contest en route to a thrilling 78-75 victory over North Texas at Bramlage Coliseum on the campus of Kansas State University. UAH improves to 2-0 while NT drops to 0-2.
The Chargers will now play Kansas State in the Midwest Regional final of the prestigious tournament on Tuesday night at 9 p.m., and the game will be carried on ESPN2.
Icing the contest for his squad, Xavier Baldwin nailed a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining, and the Blue and White then watched as the Mean Green's attempt to tie the game at the buzzer clanked off the rim to provide the team with the historic victory.
Impressive from beyond the arc, UAH connected on 12 of their 27 attempts from downtown and was led by Wayne Dedrick's 21 points on the strength of four made treys. The freshman from Tuscaloosa, Ala., scored 13 of his points in the second half, helping the Chargers maintain the lead throughout the final 20 minutes of the contest.
UAH was in the game from the start, building up a 12-8 advantage at the 14:13 mark of the opening period, but North Texas controlled play through the middle minutes of the frame and took a 22-17 lead with 9:13 left in the period.
Over the next three minutes, Ronnie Mack scored eight points – including two 3-pointers – to help key a 12-4 run that put the Chargers up 29-26 with 5:13 remaining in the half, but North Texas did not allow the Chargers to pull away, moving back ahead by a 37-35 advantage at the 2:24 mark of the period.
Ending the stanza strong, Dedrick buried a trey, grabbed a defensive rebound on the ensuing possession, and knocked down another long-range shot to give the Chargers a 41-37 lead at the half.
After pushing through some jitters to start the second half while seeing the game move to a 41-41 tie with 17:16 on the clock, the Blue and White proceeded to tear off a 17-7 run that pushed the Charger lead to a game-high 10 points at 58-48 with 11:58 left in the contest.
Dedrick scored seven points during the stretch, and Jaime Smith was perfect on four free throw opportunities to help the spurt of points.
The Chargers would have to withstand one more push from the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt Conference, as North Texas trimmed a 72-63 lead at 4:15 down to a slim one-point advantage for UAH with an 8-0 run to produce a 72-71 score with 1:44 left.
On the next possession for UAH, Andrew Donovan grabbed a key offensive board and kicked it out to Smith who buried a 3-pointer to place the Chargers back ahead by four at 75-71, allowing UAH to only need to hit its free throws in the waning moments to secure the victory.
Smith finished the game with 18 points as he matched Dedrick with four successful attempts from downtown, and he was a perfect 6-for-6 at the charity stripe.
For the game, the Chargers outrebounded North Texas by a 45-40 clip, and UAH hit 39.3 percent of its shots from the field while limiting the Mean Green to a 35.9 percentage on the floor. Keyed by Dedrick's strong night, the UAH bench outscored NT's reserves by a 26-8 margin.
Jordan Williams paced North Texas with 26 points, and the Blue and White held the much heralded Tony Mitchell to just 10 on the evening.