Sharpshooters Go At It In Charlotte
North Texas Faces Charlotte
Jan. 26, 2017
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The defensive-minded North Texas women's basketball team is on the road in Charlotte to face the potent 49er offense Thursday night.
The Mean Green (6-12, 3-4 C-USA) have held their last six opponents to an average of 7.7 points below the team's respected season scoring average. Thursday, they take on Charlotte (14-4, 6-1 C-USA) who has risen to the top of the league standings by averaging a league best 78 points per game in conference.
Thursday's matchup also features two of the conference's best 3-point shooters in the Mean Green's Candice Adams and the 49ers' Ciara Gregory.
Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., with the game airing live on KNTU 88.1 FM and streaming live on CUSA.tv.
Thursday's contest will be the second meeting between the two schools this season. North Texas and Charlotte opened conference play against each other on Dec. 30 at the Super Pit. The Mean Green held a 10-point lead after the first quarter, but struggled to score later after the 49ers switched to a zone defense. Charlotte won the game 78-63.
However, that was last year.
Since changing the calendar to 2017, North Texas has created a more sturdy defensive identity. They held the nations No. 2 leading scorer to just 14 points -- 11 points below her season average -- on 4-of-11 shooting. Furthermore they forced her to turn the ball over nine times. They kept UAB to just 54 points in regulation, a new season-low for the Mean Green defense and more than 10 points below what the Blazers had been averaging. More recently, they limited Middle Tennessee's dynamic offense that features two preseason first-team all-conference players to just 19 points in the first half and 60 points total, again nearly 10 points below the Blue Raiders' average.
Thursday, North Texas looks to use that same identity to upend a 49ers team that has yet to lose at home this season, posting a 7-0 record in Halton Arena.
It'll of course take a bit of offense as well, which North Texas hopes has carried over from last week's shootouts. Last Thursday, the Mean Green shot a season-high 56 percent versus Southern Miss and made a season-high 10 3-pointers on their way to a 13-point win.
North Texas has never beaten Charlotte in its six previous tries. A win Saturday for the Mean Green would also be the first time they had four conference wins before the month of February since the 2012-13 season.
After taking out the Golden Eagles on Thursday, the Mean Green fell just short of the weekend sweep as they lost 72-65 to Louisiana Tech in a game that saw 17 lead changes. Along with Adams' six 3-pointers, Ellison scored 19 points on an efficient 7-of-9 shooting performance. The Mean Green out rebounded the Lady Techster, something most teams have struggled to do. But a late fourth quarter transition 3-pointer by LA Tech sparked a run that proved to be the dagger for North Texas.
ADAMS VERSUS GREGORY
Thursday's game features two of the best 3-point shooters in C-USA. North Texas' Candice Adams leads the league with a .457 3-point field goal percentage in conference play, while Charlotte's Ciara Gregory has made a league leading 59 3-pointers on the season. Adams enters Thursday's game with a made 3-pointer in 18 consecutive games played. The last time she didn't make a 3-pointer was the last time she played the 49ers a season ago. Adams missed the two school's meeting in December to rest her knees. The only player in the conference with a longer streak than Adams' 18 is Gregory, who is currently at 19 consecutive games.
MATCHUP AT A GLANCE
North Texas Charlotte
6-12 (3-3 C-USA) 14-4 (6-1 C-USA)
T-4th in C-USA T-1st in C-USA
60.8 PPG 72.6 PPG
31.2 RPG 38.6 RPG
10.1 APG 16.9 APG
North Texas Charlotte
PTS: Bradley (13.3) PTS: Hunter (16.9)
REB: Ellison (5.9) REB: Hunter (7.0)
AST: Criner (3.5) AST: Webster (5.3)
What makes Charlotte so difficult is its depth on offense. They don't use an exceptional amount of the players but it's that they have so many weapons. The 49ers have three players averaging in double figures and two more right on the cusp at nine points per game. Furthermore, they use great ball movement to open up the court and find the playmakers. Last time these two teams met, North Texas did an exceptional job in the first quarter on both ends. Now with more confidence under their belt, the key for the Mean Green will be stringing together four quarters of the high-energy that they've brought the last couple weeks