Women's Basketball Edged by UTEP in C-USA Opener
Second-Half Stall Sinks Mean Green in First Game of 2015
EL PASO — Before the North Texas women's basketball team's first Conference USA game of the season, head coach Mike Petersen told his players that it was an opportunity to hit the reset button. After finishing 1-10 in non-conference play, the turn of the calendar to 2015 meant a fresh start for the Mean Green against UTEP at the Don Haskins Center.
Even though North Texas played arguably its best game of the season from start to finish, the visitors fell in a 60-58 heartbreaker to the Miners on January 2. A three-pointer by sophomore Candice Adams brought the score within 59-58 with 1.6 seconds left, but a successful inbounds pass and a foul shot by UTEP sealed the game and a two-point win.
"We had a lot of people really contribute tonight," Petersen analyzed. "I thought we played very well and very hard; I was really happy with our effort."
Sophomore Terra Ellison, starting her second consecutive game, had a career-high 14 points on 7-13 shooting and four rebounds. Senior Briesha Wynn was all over the scoresheet, as she contributed 11 points on 5-10 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and a career-high four steals. But Wynn fell into foul trouble in the second half and only contributed two rebounds to her stat line in the final 20 minutes.
Following back-to-back three-pointers by senior BreAnna Dawkins and Adams early in the second half, North Texas had jumped out to an 11-point, 38-27 lead. But UTEP then went on a 22-5 run to grab a five-point lead of its own.
"It was ready to be a big lead and we bounced back to bring it close right to the end," Petersen said. "We had good play out of Kasiney and Candice to keep us in the game."
The Mean Green's two point guards, Adams and junior Kasiney Williams, kept their team in the game as the Miners brought the heat in the second half. Adams finished the game with nine points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Williams hit back-to-back shots to cut a 49-43 UTEP lead to one with 7:42 remaining.
After a tweak in the offensive structure implemented by Petersen beginning against Texas A&M on December 31, the Mean Green looked much better on the offensive end. With Ellison in the starting lineup and Wynn playing at the 4-spot, North Texas shot 42.6-percent from the field and scored 58 points against the Miners; both of which are the second-best marks of the season.
"The biggest thing is people are catching the ball shot-ready," the head coach said. "The last three weeks we've been working on catching the ball and looking at the rim first."
The slim loss is a loss nonetheless, and the Mean Green will bring a 1-11 (0-1) record to San Antonio on January 4 when the team takes on UTSA at 2 p.m. The Roadrunners also opened up Conference USA play on Friday night, losing to Rice in overtime by a score of 62-58.