DENTON, Texas - What began as a lights-out three-point shooting performance unraveled into an offense stumbling in the dark, sending the North Texas women to a 60-47 loss to Middle Tennessee Thursday evening at the Super Pit.
Despite hitting 60 percent of the three-point field goals in the first half - which propelled North Texas to an early double-digit lead - the Mean Green finished the game with 29-percent field-goal shooting, including 5-for-27 shooting in the second half.
"I thought they defended us well, and I thought we panicked a little bit," North Texas coach Mike Petersen said. "When they got the lead we broke down. We've got to be more mature.
"I thought we got frustrated offensively," Petersen added. "We let them take us out of what we wanted to do. We didn't respond very well, and we missed some easy shots."
Middle Tennessee didn't shoot much better, making good on 35 percent for the game, but the Blue Raiders pulled down 21 offensive rebounds and out-boarded North Texas 48-36. It was the second-straight game that North Texas has allowed 21 offensive rebounds, both of which were losses.
The Mean Green (7-12 overall, 6-4 in Sun Belt play) is now 0-4 against the leaders of the Sun Belt's East Division, which Middle Tennessee (14-5, 9-1) sits atop
The Blue Raiders were able to neutralize Mean Green freshman and scoring leader Alexis Hyder, holding her to a season-low two points on just three field-goal attempts.
"They got physical with her," Petersen said. "When people focus on you, you've got to battle through. We had a hard time getting her the ball in spots where she should score."
The game opened in intense fashion, befitting a meeting of division leaders. Both teams came out playing pressure defense all over the court, forcing mistakes and missed shots, but North Texas used the three-point line to jump on top. BreAnna Dawkins and Laura McCoy each made a pair of threes, and Loryn Goodwin drew a foul on a three-point shot and converted all three free throws for 15-2 lead with just over six minutes gone.
But the MTSU defense tightened up, and an early 10-2 North Texas rebounding advantage turned around. The Blue Raiders began get inside on the Mean Green defense and chipped away at the lead, and, by the seven-minute mark, they were within three at 18-15. North Texas lost McCoy to a third foul, but continued to hit threes. Brehind a 14-point half from Goodwin, the Mean Green got to halftime with a 30-27 lead.
Things got much worse in the second half, as North Texas made two of its first 16 shots while MTSU was shooting 53 percent, going on a 13-0 run to open an 11-point lead at 45-34. North Texas closed to within 48-43, but MTSU finished the game on a 12-4 run to seal the victory.
Goodwin finished the game with 21 points to lead the Mean Green scoring, while McCoy had 10.
North Texas returns to the Super Pit Saturday night to host Arkansas-Little Rock. Tip-off is 5 p.m.