North Texas' Season Ends In C-USA Quarterfinals
No. 8 Mean Green Fall 78-51 To No. 1 WKU
March 9, 2017
BIRMINGHAM, AL -- The North Texas women's basketball season came to end Thursday afternoon at the Bartow Arena in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Championship.
The No. 8 seed Mean Green (12-19) lost 78-51 to the No. 1 seed Western Kentucky Lady Toppers (25-6).
The Lady Toppers converted on second chance opportunities and turnovers to come away with the win.
"We knew we had to do a good job rebounding," said North Texas head coach Jalie Mitchell. "You can't give them so many opportunities."
Western Kentucky finished the game with 44 rebounds, 19 of which were offensive. They scored 22 of its points on second chance opportunities and made 10 more free throws than the Mean Green.
In the first half, though, it was Western Kentucky who struggled with turnovers and fouls.
North Texas' defense kept the game close through one and a half quarters, holding the Lady Topers to below 20 percent shooting and getting WKU starters in foul trouble.
With five minutes left in the second quarter, senior Kelsey Criner raced down the court following a missed WKU basket. Criner tied the game at 20 on the transition layup. On the very next possession for the Mean Green, WKU would strip the ball and convert a layup. The steal began a 9-0 run by the Lady Toppers who had completely stolen all the momentum from North Texas at the half.
In the second half and down the stretch, the Lady Toppers played discipline basketball and committed just three second half turnovers. The shots began to fall in too. WKU made 48 percent of its attempts and had 24 rebounds in the second half.
North Texas continued to attack the rim up until the final buzzer, but the WKU offensive brigade propelled them into the C-USA Championship semifinals Friday night.
Criner did end her career making history. The Dallas native converted on her final two free throw attempts late in the fourth quarter, the last of those two was her 18th in a row, which set a program record for most made consecutive made free throws.
This is the second consecutive season North Texas has reached the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament. Along with many other program firsts, records and improvements, they finished Mitchell's second season and the helm with more wins and points scored than last year. They are also just the fourth North Texas team in program history to shoot over 70 percent from the free throw line for the season.