DENTON, Texas - A North Texas offensive swoon and a Florida Atlantic three-point barrage overturned a 14-point Mean Green lead and sent North Texas to its fifth-straight home loss, 73-60 Wednesday night at the Super Pit.
The Mean Green was up 14 midway through the first half and led by seven at halftime before FAU hit six-of-seven three-point attempts to open the second half and take control.
"They made a couple of shots and we lost our will a little bit," North Texas coach Mike Petersen said. "We were not the same team competitively. It can't be that way.
"They were wide open," Petersen said of the Owl three-point shooters in the second half, who hit 8-of-13 in the final 20 minutes. "It was the same look, and we didn't get any pressure on it, didn't get a hand on it, didn't compete."
The loss is a crippling blow to the Mean Green's fading hopes of a top-five finish in the Sun Belt and a first-round bye in the league tournament beginning March 8 in Hot Springs. Since a five-game win streak in January, North Texas (9-9 in league play, 10-17 on the season) has gone 3-7 and is tied for sixth place inthe Sun Belt with FAU, but the Owls (9-9, 12-14) swept the Mean Green this year and so have a tie-breaker edge.
"Who we are was fine, but we've gotten away from who we are," Petersen said. "We need to go back to being who we are. We didn't keep our focus, did not keep our intensity."
Alexis Hyder led North Texas with 15 points and 13 rebounds, her eighth double-double of the season, but foul trouble limited her over the final 12 minutes of the game.
North Texas opened the game with its zone peppering the FAU guards with a array of defenders from constantly changing angles, leaving the Owls in disarray and missing their first eight shots. The Mean Green offense, meanwhile opened with five layups before Laura McCoy took a shot from outside the paint, a three-point field goal for a 13-1. McCoy drilled another three to make it 21-7 midway through the half.
With the game at 26-12, FAU regrouped and went on a 9-0 run to close within five points at 26-21 before the Mean Green's Hyder stepped in. She hit a free throw to stop the run, turned away in an Owl scoring threat, then drove the lane for a layup. Hyder, the 5-11 freshman from Austin, almost had a double-double in the first half, going for 11 points and nine rebounds to send North Texas to halftime with a 31-24 lead.
But the Mean Green could not recapture their first-half offensive momentum, and FAU went on an 8-0 run, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers, to open the second half and take its first lead of the game at 32-31.
The gap steadily increased as the Mean Green floundered in its attempts at a rally, shooting 15 percent from three-point range (0-of-6 in the second half) and 39 percent for the game.
Loryn Goodwin had 14 points and BreAnna Dawkins had 10 for North Texas.
North Texas will next play on Saturday at South Alabama before returning to close the regular season next Wednesday against Arkansas State.