Offensive Balance Leads Women To First Round Win Over FAU
Five Players Finish In Double Figures As North Texas Takes 79-74 Win Over Owls
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Playing with its season on the line, the North Texas women's basketball team led for more than 36 minutes in a morning showdown that saw the Mean Green take down Florida Atlantic, 79-74, en route to the team's first Conference USA Tournament win on Tuesday.
North Texas (11-18) controlled the matchup in a must-win contest in which five Mean Green players finished in double figures. That offensive balance resulted in the team's first post-season win since the 2011-12 season.
"I'm ecstatic to get a good team win," head coach Jalie Mitchell said. "If you look at the stat sheet, it's pretty balanced and everybody stepped up and did something to help us advance. Everything that we did helped us to get to this point"
Seeking revenge for a 10-point loss to the Owls less than a month ago, the Mean Green seemed to have all the answers for FAU's gameplan this time around. After the Owls held North Texas to just 37.1 percent from the field in the first matchup, the Mean Green went 26-of-54 (48.1 percent) from the floor on Tuesday.
That efficient offense was led by a 16-point performance from junior guard Kelsey Criner, but she was followed closely by classmate Candice Adams and senior Acheil Tac, who finished with 15 points apiece. Senior Teadra Jones added 14 points, and junior Terra Ellison rounded out the double-digit scorers with her 10-point outing.
Despite having the upper hand throughout the contest, Mean Green fans in attendance at the Bartow Arena were on the edge of their seats as the closing minutes ticked away.
Sparked by a 30-point second half from senior Ali Gorrell, Florida Atlantic (14-16) took its first lead of the game with only six minutes remaining. As the clock continued to run and neither team gained an advantage, both teams found themselves tied with about three minutes remaining. Then - with only 2:50 left in the contest - Ellison connected on a 3-pointer that put her team on top, and North Texas wouldn't look back.
With a solid lead, the Mean Green found themselves in the foul bonus and rode efficient free throw shooting to the victory. North Texas went 12-of-13 from the charity stripe in the game's final three minutes, ultimately going 20-of-23 on the day.
North Texas turns right around to play fifth-seeded Old Dominion tomorrow in the tournament's second round. Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m. from the Bartow Arena.
Only seven players checked in for the Mean Green on Tuesday. The average playing time for the team's starters was 33.4 minutes.
The performance was the first time in more than a year in which five North Texas scorers finished with 10 or more points. The last time that happened was March 5, 2015 in a loss to UTEP.
The team's 79 points was its highest output in a four-quarter game this season.
Mitchell becomes the fourth Mean Green head coach to win a postseason game in her first season with the team.