Mean Green Notches Another Comeback, Matches 2015 Win Total
Strong Fourth Quarter Spells Victory For 5-5 Mean Green
Junior Kelsey Criner had 11 assists in Monday's win, a feat no NT player has tackled since 2002. (Photo by Rick Yeatts)
SAN ANTONIO — For three quarters the North Texas women’s basketball team seemed out of place on the court of the McDermott Convocation Center, but - down by 11 points with less than 10 minutes remaining - the Mean Green orchestrated another fourth quarter rally to take a 62-55 win over Incarnate Word on Monday afternoon.
North Texas (5-5) outscored the Cardinals 27-12 in the final frame to clinch a victory after what had been three quarters of disorganized basketball from both squads, picking up the team’s fifth win of the season and matching the program’s overall win total from a season ago.
“Our team wanted this win but we didn’t look hungry enough or motivated enough to go get it,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said on her message to the team during gametime. “It’s about backing up what you say. I told them that we couldn’t let what was happening offensively dictate what we did defensively. The D still had to be solid so that the defense could turn into offense.”
Mitchell’s troops must have been listening because a stifling Mean Green defense came out to start the final quarter. North Texas turned five UIW turnovers into six points in the fourth frame alone as guard Kelsey Criner led the way for what quickly became a pesky defensive unit. The junior had two steals and six assists in the final 10 minutes of action before finishing the day with nine points, 11 dimes and three steals.
Senior Acheil Tac and junior Candice Adams were the players at the receiving end of many of those precise passes, and each came through for the visiting team in the game’s clutch moments. The starting duo cashed in for nine points each in the fourth frame, giving North Texas the space it needed to close out the win.
UIW (3-8) led for almost 25 minutes of the game thanks to a zone defensive scheme that had North Texas on their heels. The Mean Green shot only 31.1 percent in the first three quarters while turning the ball over 13 times. By the game's finale, the Mean Green had connected on 40.7 percent of its shots.
Now with a .500 record through 10 games for the first time since the 2013-14 season, Mitchell made it known that there is still work to be done.
“We’re not where we wanted to be but I’m okay with where we are,” the first-year coach said. “Our team is taking strides. As long as we move forward, I’m good with that. We’re looking forward to doing more.”
North Texas will now enjoy an eight-day break for the winter holidays before hosting Oklahoma Panhandle State at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, from the Super Pit.
• Criner’s 11-assist performance was the first time an NT player had 10+ dimes since Erika Bobo had 10 on Nov. 29, 2002.
• Tac snagged back-to-back double-doubles in Monday’s win with her 18-point, 10-rebound performance. She has four on the year and is the only NT player with one this season.
• The victory notched the team’s first back-to-back road wins since the 2012-13 campaign.
• North Texas held its opponent below 60 points for the fifth time this season. NT is allowing an average of 59 points per game.