North Texas Defense Suffocates SMU In 47-40 Win
Mean Green Score Season-Low In Points But Never Trail
Nov. 29, 2017
DENTON - The formula to the Mean Green's 47-40 victory over SMU at the Super Pit on Wednesday was defense, defense, defense, defense - and just enough offense.
North Texas made just 32 percent of its field-goal attempts, didn't break 20 points in any quarter and finished with a season-low point total - and yet never trailed.
A sensational Mean Green defense held SMU to 29-percent shooting, forced 24 turnovers, held Mustangs leading scorer McKenzie Adams to 8 points below her season average and kept the Ponies at bay until the North Texas offense could find sufficient points for the win.
North Texas' top scorer, Terriell Bradley, hit four free throws in the final 21 seconds, Micayla Buckner knocked down a jumper in the lane for a 6-point lead with 2:43 to play and pulled down the biggest of her 11 rebounds with 23 seconds left, and Brittany Smith added 9 points for the Mean Green (5-1).
"A win is a win, and you take them however you can get them," North Texas coach Jalie Mitchell said.
Lauren Holmes, the Mean Green's second-leading scorer, was limited to 3 points but spent much of her time defending SMU's Adams, who came in averaging 22.7 points per game. Adams finished with 15 points.
"It's a tough assignment," Mitchell said. "I wanted to make Adams uncomfortable, and I think we did a good job of that."
Such could be said of the entire North Texas defense, which held SMU (3-5) to its season-low point output.
"I think we just hung in there," Mitchell said. "We rotated and communicated, and we listened to the game plan. To hold them to 16 points in the first half was huge and did a lot for our confidence."
Buckner faced a tall task - literally. She did battle all day with SMU's 6-6 and 6-5 posts, holding them to a combined 12 points and 12 rebounds. Buckner finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the first double-double of her career.
"I thought she answered the call," Mitchell said. "She hit some nice mid-range jumpers and she showed her complete game.
As close as the game was, North Texas was in control from the outset. It's aggressive defense forced 10 first-quarter turnovers and limited the Mustangs to just 5 points. On the offensive end, the Mean Green attacked the paint despite SMU's size advantage and enjoyed some early success.
But UNT missed an opportunity to blow the game open. After scoring the first 9 points of the contest, North Texas cooled dramatically, going scoreless for 4:40, missing seven-straight shots and hitting just 25 percent of its shots in the first 10 minutes. SMU adjusted its defense to push the Mean Green offense to outside shooting where the returns were sporadic. After settling for an 11-5 lead at the end of one, the Mean Green's scoring slump allowed SMU to close within 13-10 early in the second quarter.
Consistent throughout, however, was the North Texas defense. The Mean Green harried and pressured and disrupted the Mustangs, forcing 14 turnovers, holding SMU to 28-percent shooting and limiting SMU leading scorer McKenzie Adams to 4 points on 2-of-8 attempts in the first half.
Finally, late in the half, North Texas' shooters began to find the range, getting 3-pointers from Brittany Smith and Adrianna Henderson and a twisting drive to the bucket from Grace Goodhart to open a 23-16 lead at halftime.
But North Texas still couldn't pry the lid off the basket in the second half. It missed several good looks at 3-point shots and an uncontested layup, and made just 18.8 percent of its field-goal attempts in the third.
Yet somehow the Mean Green kept the lead, which rose briefly to six but narrowed to as little as one at 32-31. North Texas willed the lead back up to six in the closing seconds, getting key stops at one end and just enough key scores at the other.
- Terriell Bradley has made 15 consecutive free throws.
- The Mean Green have reached five wins before Dec. 1 for the second time since 1981.
- Micayla Buckner's double-double was the first of her career.
- SMU's previous low-scoring game was 55 against UT Arlington.
- North Texas' 5-1 start is its best since 2005-06, when it also started 5-1. That team won 19 games and is the last Mean Green women's basketball team to finish the year with a winning record.
- North Texas' five non-conference wins is tied for the most under Jalie Mitchell.
- Mitchell picked up her 28th career win at UNT, which ties her for fifth most with Mike Petersen.
- Brittany Smith scored a UNT career-best nine points.
- The 3,243 in attendance is the largest crowd since Mitchell became the Mean Green head coach in 2015.
- North Texas has played 24 quarters this season and trailed at the end of only one of them.
- Terriell Bradley is now eight points away from scoring her 500th career point at UNT.
North Texas hosts Tulsa on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m. at the Super Pit.