Dominant Defense Earns Women's BBall 45-42 Victory
Williams Drops Career-High 12 Points in Second Career Start
DENTON — modus operandi is a latin phrase that translates to "method of operation," or M.O., as it is more commonly known in everyday lingo. For this season's edition of the North Texas women's basketball team, its M.O. has not been a secret: try to control tempo, keep the scoring low and play harder than the opponent.
The Mean Green followed that exact formula Saturday afternoon against visiting Marshall, winning by a score of 45-42 at the Super Pit to improve to 3-18 on the season and 2-8 in Conference USA play. Junior guard Kasiney Williams, making her second career start at North Texas, scored a career-high 12 points on 5-13 shooting and added two assists to lead the team.
"It feels great to get this kind of win," senior guard BreAnna Dawkins said after the game. "We haven't been winning, but we work hard every day in practice and we continue to listen to our coaches and keep grinding."
The 5-foot 1-inch Williams embodies head coach Mike Petersen's hard-nosed style of play just as much as anybody on the team. Today, she put in a 40-minute, iron-woman performance to lead the team and instilled calmness and direction to the North Texas offense, which had only 14 turnovers in the game.
With senior forward Briesha Wynn ruled out due to an ankle injury she suffered during the Mean Green's loss to Western Kentucky on Thursday night, the team knew it needed to put a concerted effort towards competing on the glass. And that they did, as North Texas had six players grab four or more rebounds and equaled the Thundering Herd's team total of 36. Junior Acheil Tac and freshman Bria Frierson each had six boards to lead the team; for Frierson, the six rebounds were a career-high mark.
"Credit to Briesha, she's over there on the sideline coaching her brains out," head coach Mike Petersen commented on Wynn's support from the bench. "She stayed positive and she didn't go into full-on pout mode. She was encouraging, and as a teammate that sends a pretty strong message that I have your back and you have my back."
Dawkins added 11 points and five rebounds for the Mean Green, and sophomore guard Terra Ellison bounced back from a 2-15 shooting night against Western Kentucky to post nine points on an ultra-efficient 4-6 shooting day from the field.
The 42-point defensive effort was North Texas' best this season, and it came against a Marshall team that had averaged 68.1 points per game coming in to Denton. Senior center Chukka Ezeigbo led the Thundering Herd with 12 points on 6-9 shooting and 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double this season, but none of her teammates joined her in double figures. Three other Marshall players came in averaging at least 10 points per game, but they were all held under that by the Mean Green defense.
"We just held a team 26 points under its season average. I'm not sure I've ever done that before," Petersen said with a smile and an astounded look. "That takes a lot of work, and you can't do that kind of work unless you stay with the plan."
Next on the schedule for North Texas is a trip to Birmingham, Alabama, to take on UAB February 12 at 7 p.m. The Blazers are coming off a grind-it-out matchup at Southern Miss, losing by a score of 44-39 to drop their record to 12-10 and 6-5 in C-USA play.