Leaving A Legacy
North Texas Says Thank You To Its Three Seniors
DENTON — On the walls inside the Super Pit and throughout the North Texas women’s basketball locker room and coaches offices are pictures of former players.
The pictures honor the program’s 40-year history and the 228 women who have worn the North Texas uniform.
Painted on the back wall in the Mean Green’s film room are the three current seniors.
Saturday, Candice Adams, Kelsey Criner and Terra Ellison will play their final game at the Super Pit. Not one alike, what each three brought to the team has left a lasting memory in the minds of teammates, fans and in the program’s record book.
At every opportunity, Criner chose lemonade or fruit punch. And at every attempt by Winland to explain the importance of drinking water, Criner refused to give in. Her competitive and big kid nature always had a witty and lighthearted joke in response.
“Liza, I’m made of 70 percent juice and 30 percent water,” Criner said.
It got to a point where Winland forced Criner to drink water in front of her until it became a habit.
A year later, it’s become more of her daily routine but her playful character will never change.
During games and in practice, Criner’s playfulness is easily seen in her smile that goes from ear to ear. She’s the first to shed a tear during a heartbreaking loss but she’s also the first to pick her teammates up.
Her competitive side has helped her not just play through a nagging injury but be one of the top point guards in program history.
Criner is the ninth fastest players at North Texas to score 600 career points. The New Mexico Junior College transfer’s 149 assists last season are the second most assists for a single season in program history. By the time this season is over, she’ll likely have at least 246 career assists, which will rank her in the top 10 in program history.
On the defensive end, despite her 5-foot-7-frame, her competitive nature helped her become an all conference defensive player. Her 78 steals a season ago is the eighth most in a single season in program history.
Prior to the start of the 2016-17 season when head coach Jalie Mitchell revealed to the team the renovated film room with the massive pictures of the seniors on the back wall, senior Terra Ellison was nearly brought to tears.
In her four years, Ellison has been through a lot with the program. Along with the wins and losses, she’s gone from barely seeing any playing time to being the most consistent starter on the team. She’s changed positions and without saying much became a model of leadership and change under Mitchell.
Ellison will forever be remembered for her performance on Nov. 16, 2015. On the road at No. 17 Oklahoma, Ellison scored a team-high 15 points to lead the Mean Green to the program’s first win over a ranked opponent. It was only the second game with Mitchell at the helm, but it began the program and Ellison’s growth into one of the finest players in North Texas history.
Of Ellison’s 745 career points, which ranks 22nd, 586 have come in the last two seasons. Of her 365 career rebounds, 286 have come in the last two seasons. She began her career making 12 percent of her 3-point attempts. Saturday, she will enter the Super Pit with a 34 percent career average.
As a senior, the 5-foot-11 Ellison, who this past summer asked to change positions to help the team, has set career highs in points, rebounds, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, steals and blocks.
"Terra is a model of hard work," Candice Adams said. "She's a leader. She doesn't scream and yell but everyone sees how much she cares and wants to get better."
On road trips, when the coaches say at 10 p.m. that the lights are to be turned off in the rooms, the lights are out in Candice Adams’ room at 9:59 p.m.
The senior guard doesn’t mess around. Her dedication has helped her overcome obstacles that have left a lasting impression on her teammates and the culture of North Texas women’s basketball.
Knee surgeries and playing with torn meniscuses haven’t stopped Adams. The program’s first top 100 recruit has pushed her teammates to have no excuses and play until the final horn.
“She’s the OG,” said junior post Tosin Mabodu of Adams. “Because of her, no one who plays for North Texas can make an excuse. She’s an example of how there’s no reason you can’t give 110 percent.”
When Adams first stepped into the Super Pit, she fought for respect and put pressure on upperclassmen to be better.
Now she’s the bar.
Next week in the C-USA Championship, the four-year starter will make her 100th career start.
Her 869 career points ranks 15th all-time. Her 155 career made 3-pointers is fourth best and the 105 made 3-pointers in the last two seasons are the most made 3-pointers in consecutive seasons.
Saturday, the Super Pit will say thank you to these three women for their passion, resilience, investment, discipline and excellence.
There will be no need to say good-bye, though, for their impact on the program will forever remain in the Super Pit.