Stifling Defense Leads The Way In 58-40 Win At FIU
North Texas Holds Panthers Scoreless For More Than 13 Minutes in Win
Senior Acheil Tac pulled down 16 rebounds as a part of her eighth double-double on Thursday. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)
MIAMI — It’s not often that a team scores 18 unanswered points in the game of basketball. It’s even more rare for a defense to hold the opposition scoreless for a period longer than an entire quarter.
But the North Texas women’s basketball team did both of those things on Thursday night.
Powered by a stout defensive effort, the Mean Green throttled FIU, 58-40, from the Lime Court at FIU Arena. The double-digit win came with one of the team’s best all-around efforts of the year as the Panthers were held to only 40 points on the day while failing to score for 13:20.
“I’m really proud of my team today,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “We played together with team defense and we limited them to one shot for the majority of the time. Not only were we playing great D but we were rebounding the ball as well.”
North Texas (9-14, 4-9) used strong interior play to gain and sustain its lead throughout the day, and the Mean Green’s work on the glass played a large part in that. The visiting team ended the day with a 47-33 rebounding advantage.
Leading the way in that category was senior Acheil Tac. The Garland, Texas, native pulled down 16 rebounds in the contest to go along with 10 points for her eighth double-double of the year. Junior Candice Adams would finish as the team’s leading scorer with 14 points, and junior Kelsey Criner added 13 to round out the double-digit scorers for what was a well-balanced offensive attack.
North Texas took an 11-point lead into the locker room at halftime after holding the Panthers to 34.6 percent from the field in the game’s first 20 minutes. Adams was a large part of that stretch as all of her team-high 14 points came in the contest’s first two quarters.
But FIU (4-21, 2-12) came out swinging in the third period, forcing five turnovers in the frame’s first six minutes to spark an 8-0 run, eventually pulling to within six points of the Mean Green.
That’s when North Texas responded with arguably the its best run of the season. Beginning at the 6:32 mark of the third quarter, the Mean Green would go on to hold FIU without a single point until only 3:12 remained in game. The visitors forced seven Panther turnovers in that span, culminating in an 18-0 run for North Texas.
“I thought we gave each other a whole lot of intensity,” Mitchell said. “I told them some things about their energy or lack thereof coming out of the locker room and they fed off of each other there in the third and into the fourth.
“We got a win. Now it’s time to go get another one.”
The Mean Green close out its Florida road swing with a matchup against the Owls of Florida Atlantic, set for 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, Feb. 20, from Boca Raton, Fla.
• Adams hit two 3-pointers in the first half to give her 87 in her career, tying current head coach Jalie Mitchell for sixth-place on NT’s all-time list.
• Every member of the Mean Green saw playing time in the win.
• NT’s +14 rebounding margin ties for its second-largest of the season. The Mean Green enjoyed a +23 difference in a win over La Salle and had a +14 margin in a loss at Texas State.
• The win propelled NT to 11th place in the C-USA standings. The team will need to rank somewhere within the top-10 spots to avoid playing in the first round of the league championship that begins on March 8.