Mean Green Begin Important Three-Game Stretch
North Texas Returns Home After Comeback Road Win
DENTON — Following the Mean Green women’s basketball team’s 17-point second half comeback win at Rice Saturday afternoon, North Texas’ three-game losing streak feels ages ago. They moved up two spots in the standings and with eight games remaining are just two wins shy of surpassing last season’s conference win total.
Thursday, the Mean Green (7-14, 4-6 C-USA) begin a two-game home stand and a stretch of three games against the bottom three teams in Conference USA. They will first welcome Florida Atlantic (4-17, 0-10 C-USA) to the Super Pit. Tip-off for Thursday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be aired live on KNTU 88.1 FM and live streamed on CUSA.tv.
Despite trailing by 17 points with 44 seconds left in the third quarter, North Texas found a way to win at Rice in overtime on Saturday afternoon. The Mean Green were led by senior Kelsey Criner who finished with 25 points and scored 18 of them in the fourth quarter and overtime period. Additionally towards the end of the game, North Texas’ bench came through with key contributions. Freshman Jada Poland scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time, all of which are season-highs for her. As a collective unit, North Texas’ bench made eight free throws in the final 15 minutes of the game.
The win over the Rice Owls ended a three-game skid, which had caused North Texas to fall into a four-way tie for 10th place in the standings. After the win, the Mean Green sit alone in eighth. The win was also North Texas’ second overtime road win this season. It’s the first time in program history North Texas has won multiple overtime games in a season. North Texas only had three overtime road wins in program history prior to this season.
Florida Atlantic enters Thursday’s game riding an 11-game losing streak. The Owls have yet to win a road game and have lost 15 of their last 16. In their most recent game versus Old Dominion, the Owls lost 93-73. FAU’s leading scorer, Sasha Cedeno (11 ppg) scored 20 points against ODU and the team committed a season-low 10 turnovers. However, they were outrebounded 62-44, which contributed to a 51-point second-half outburst by the Monarchs.
FAU is a more than capable 3-point shooting team that will look to get out in transition and shoot open 3-pointers. Defensively, they are giving up an average of 73.4 points per game.
LAST TIME VERSUS FAU
The last time North Texas and Florida Atlantic played the Mean Green ended the Owls season with a 79-74 win in the first-round of the C-USA Tournament on March 8, 2016. North Texas lost to FAU earlier in the year in their only other meeting. The Owls’ leading scorer, Ali Gorrell, dropped 30 points in their last meeting but Gorrell has since graduated. FAU’s current leading scorer Sasha Cedeno was held scoreless in 16 minutes of action. The win was North Texas’ first in the C-USA Tournament.
North Texas looks to match its 2015-16 regular season C-USA win total of five Thursday night against Florida Atlantic. Including Thursday, the Mean Green have eight games left on their schedule. Last season, North Texas won its fifth conference game on Feb. 27 with three games left. The Mean Green are just two wins shy of tying the program’s record for C-USA wins, which they set in 2013-14, the program’s first season in C-USA. The 2001-02 team holds the record for conference wins at 12. The Mean Green were in the Sun Belt Conference at the time and current head coach Jalie Mitchell was a senior at North Texas.
Since 2005, no Mean Green player has averaged as many points per game for their career as sophomore Terriell Bradley is currently. The Kansas transfer who has started in all but one game this season for North Texas is averaging 13.3 points per game in Denton. Bradley has scored at least 15 points in six of the Mean Green’s last seven games. She is 16 points away from her 500th career point when including her freshman season at Kansas.