DENTON, Texas - On a night when points came at a premium and the defenses ruled, the North Texas women came up short in the closing seconds and suffered a 52-48 loss to Arkansas-Little Rock Saturday night at the Super Pit.
A 5-0 UALR run in the final two minutes turned a 48-45 North Texas lead into a two-point deficit, and the Mean Green missed on its final five shots of the game, including a shot with five seconds left that would have tied the game.
"They made a couple of shots at the end," North Texas coach Mike Petersen said. "It was two teams playing really, really hard, it was really, really physical. We had a lot of good shots that didn't go in. Our defensive effort was great, our rebounding effort was great. We just didn't find a way to win the game."
The Mean Green (7-13, 6-5 in Sun Belt play) have dropped three straight after a five-game win streak - including a win at UALR - put them in first place in the Sun Belt's West Division. The Trojans (13-7, 6-6) have now won two straight after a four-game losing streak.
Saturday's game was marked by long possessions that went deep into the shot clock as both offenses looked for solutions to the tight defenses. North Texas had just one player in double-figure scoring, Alexis Hyder with 11. BreAnna Dawkins and Loryn Goodwin each had nine points.
After enduring a scoreless night two days earlier against Middle Tennessee, freshman Hyder got off to a strong start Saturday. Two early fouls and a hard foul going for a loose ball failed to slow her as she scored six of the Mean Green's first eight points and had 10 points in the first half, igniting North Texas to a 13-5 lead midway through the first half.
The Mean Green, however, struggled for offense elsewhere in the first 20 minutes, hitting just one of seven three-point attempts. But Acheil Tac came off the bench to contribute a shot block, two rebounds and four points, and the Mean Green's suffocating defense opened up scoring opportunities, which Sara Stanley and Goodwin finished off to repulse a Trojan rally and give North Texas a 26-17 lead.
But UALR began to find its offense, closing the gap to 26-21 at halftime then finishing off a 12-2 run in the second half to move in front, 29-28.
North Texas responded immediately. The defense forced four turnovers, BreAnna Dawkins scored six points in an 11-2 run for a 39-31 Mean Green lead.
Again UALR caught up, tying the game at 44-44 with four minutes to play.
North Texas hits the road for its next two games, on Thursday at Louisiana-Lafayette and February 3 at Arkansas State, which currently leads the Sun Belt's West Division.