DENTON, Texas - Sara Stanley ignited a 31-0 first-half scoring run that overturned a two-point deficit and propelled the North Texas women to a 78-40 win over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday afternoon at the Super Pit, snapping a four-game losing streak and giving Karen Aston her 100th victory as head coach.
In their final home game of the season, the Mean Green went from down 13-11 to up 42-13, forcing 12 turnovers during a 12-and-a-half-minute stretch.
"I think out defense was better and our energy level was better, but our execution offensively had so much to do with our energy on the defensive end," Aston said. "We were calmer offensively, we shared the ball better, and we seemed to be in a better place."
With the win, North Texas (14-13, 7-7) keeps alive its hopes for a top-four seed in the Sun Belt Conference going into the final two games of the season, both on the road. A top-four seed means a first-round bye in the SBC Championship tournament March 3-6 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but the Mean Green must win out and will need some help to climb out of the eighth position in which they began the weekend.
"We need to find a way to build on a good performance," Aston said.
Louisiana-Lafayette (5-22, 0-15) flirted with the idea of getting their first conference win, starting aggressively and holding the lead for most of the first eight minutes of the game. The Mean Green didn't take their first lead until the 13:41 mark, and ULL retook the lead immediately and seemed in a strong position when Tamara Torru, the Mean Green's leading scorer this season, picked up her second foul of the game with 12:06 remaining and went to the bench.
But the rest of the half belonged to North Texas. Stanley scored six-straight points to put the Mean Green back in front and spark the game-deciding run. Stanley had 11 points in the run, Laura McCoy hit back-to-back threes to push the NT lead to double figures for the first time, and Kasondra Foreman's three sent North Texas to a 31-13 lead. On the defensive end, the Mean Green increased the pressure and suffocated ULL's offense, sending the Cajuns' shooting percentage plummeting to 25 percent for the half.
ULL got a pair of free throws before halftime to end its scoreless streak but could never mount a serious challenge in the second half.
Stanley finished with a game-high 17 points, Jasmine Godbolt and McCoy each had 11, and Foreman, one of the Mean Green's four seniors honored before the game, scored a season-high 10 points.
The Mean Green finish the regular season with a game on Wednesday at West-Division-leading Arkansas-Little Rock and next Sunday at Denver.