Faulty First Half Dooms North Texas Women In 62-51 Loss To Iona
Women’s Search For Momentum Ends In New Rochelle
Senior Teadra Jones finished with 13 points, six rebounds and a steal on Sunday. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)
NEW ROCHELLE, New York — Sunday afternoon’s game against Iona was supposed to be the second win of a streak that North Texas women’s basketball hoped would lead into conference play. Instead, a lackluster first half put the Mean Green in a hole it couldn’t dig itself out of in a 62-51 loss to the Gaels.
North Texas made just four shots in the game’s first 20 minutes to score a season-low 14 points. Sadly, that point total nearly matched the team’s shooting percentage for the half - 14.8 percent. By halftime, the Mean Green found themselves down by 22 points - their largest deficit of the season - before a second half surge made things interesting.
“I thought we actually shot the ball horribly in the first half today,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “Part of that was that I didn’t think we were getting the shots that we wanted to take and we didn’t finish the ones that we did take. Shooting so low, it’s hard to beat anybody.”
As has been the case on many occasions early in the season, North Texas came out strong at both ends of the court in the third quarter, outscoring the Gaels 21-5 and forcing 11 turnovers to get the team back in it. That resurgence was due in large part to junior guard Kelsey Criner, who had 16 of her career- and team-high 19 points in the second half.
Early in the fourth, a Criner steal-turned-layup cut the Iona lead to only four points, 41-37, before an 8-0 run for the Gaels gave them the space they needed to get away with the win.
Rebounding played a large role in Iona’s ability to develop and sustain a lead. Led by senior Joy Adams’s 19 rebounds, the Gaels outnumbered the Mean Green 49-40 on the glass, including 20 offensive rebounds that contributed to 15 second-chance points.
“We just needed to help each other out, put a body on people and rebound,” Mitchell added. “We didn’t do a good job of that today. We’re a whole lot better on the boards than we showed.”
North Texas was able to contain Iona’s leading scorer, guard Marina Lizarazu, to only two points in the contest, but her limited output was compensated by a dominant 31-2 advantage in bench points. Most of those came from freshman Alexis Lewis who led the Gaels with 22 points, including a perfect 4-of-4 mark from three-point range.
In addition to Criner’s strong play, North Texas got a solid effort out of senior guard Teadra Jones. She was perhaps the team’s most consistent performer from start to finish, as she ended the day with 13 points and six boards. Additonally, sophomore Bria Frierson finished a point away from her first career double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Still, Mitchell knows that she needs more from her team, and she shared that message after Sunday’s loss.
“Honestly, I told the team that we need to care more,” the first-year coach said. “We’ve only got 10 players and we need everybody to show up, play and give effort. When we have one, two or three that aren’t doing that, it affects us. That much is obvious.”
The Mean Green will continue its three-game road stretch with a visit to La Salle. The matchup is set for Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. CT in Philadelphia.