NT Women Still Can't Solve Middle Tennessee In 76-52 Loss
Mean Green Drop 13th Straight To Blue Raiders
DENTON - North Texas has made a lot of progress in coach Jalie Mitchell's first season, but one obstacle remains: beating Middle Tennessee.
The Mean Green women struggled Thursday night to find scoring opportunities and committed 24 turnovers against a disruptive Blue Raider defense, and was dominated inside by MTSU's post scoring in a 76-52 loss at the Super Pit. It's the 13th straight loss to MTSU and the 11th by double figures in that streak.
"We didn't take care of the ball very well," Mitchell said. "I thought they pretty much, on the interior, owned us. We did not take care of the paint very well. They took over, and we never got any momentum at all."
MTSU had a 31-19 advantage in field goals made, out-scored North Texas in the paint 30-24, and had a 31-16 edge in points off turnovers.
"They did what they do every night, pressure defense," Mitchell said. "We didn't take advantage of the opportunities they gave us, and the shots we did take didn't fall.
"I thought we played hard," she added, "we just did not win the battles we needed to win."
North Texas battled back in the fourth quarter, chopping the lead to 15 and getting chances to cut the lead further, but MTSU rode out the storm and retook control to hand NT its biggest loss of the season.
The game was intense - at times frenzied - in the first half, with both teams scrambling for every point and diving for every loose ball.
North Texas had great difficulty finding shots against a high-pressure Middle Tennessee defense, committing 15 turnovers - a season high for the first half - and allowing the Blue Raiders to enjoy a massive 31-18 advantage in field-goal attempts in the opening 20 minutes. The Mean Green counter-attacked with a full-court press and aggressive zone, drawing several offensive and illegal-screen fouls that pushed North Texas into the bonus and to the free-throw line for much-needed scoring.
But the imbalance in scoring chances began to take a toll midway through the second quarter. North Texas, trailing throughout the first 16 minutes, drew even at 21-21 on a bucket by Criner, but MTSU immediately went on an 11-0 run to forge a 32-23 halftime lead.
The Blue Raiders carried that momentum to the second half, striking for a trio of three-point field goals early in the third quarter, then pounding the ball inside to blow the game open. The NT deficit grew to 25 points late in the third quarter and topped out at 26 in the fourth.
• The Mean Green's 23-point first half was the third lowest total of the season.
• Kelsey Criner had five assists, the ninth-consecutive game in which she has had at least five assists.
• Bria Frierson had 10 points, her third double-figure effort this season.
• North Texas made just two three-point field goals, matching their low output for the season.
North Texas will host UAB on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 2 p.m. at the Super Pit.