DENTON, Texas - The North Texas women, in their opening night under head coach Mike Petersen, spent Monday night battling back from double-digit deficits but came up just short in an 88-83 loss to Texas State at the Super Pit.
In an intense, high-energy and high-drama game, the Mean Green (0-1) got within one point twice in the last three minutes and had chances to take the lead, but could not find that one last basket to finish off the rally.
"We did not have the right mindset defensively," Petersen said, who suffered his first loss at the Super Pit in three outings, this his first as North Texas coach. "You can't give up 88 points. You've got to play fast on offense and guard.
"This is a game we had every opportunity to win," he added.
Texas State, 2-0 this year after a 17-14 season a year ago, lead most of the way and was up 60-44 with midway through the second half when North Texas got within five but could draw no closer until the final minutes, when freshman Alexis Hyder got the Mean Green within 72-69. Trailing 81-79, North Texas hit one of two free throws to make it a one-point game.
But North Texas missed multiple chances in the final two minutes, while Texas State survived with good shooting at the free-throw line.
"It's a learning process in a lot of ways," Petersen said. "I love our team, but there's a learning curve. This is a team that will still be getting better in February and March."
Hyder led North Texas with a double-double in her first collegiate game, getting 18 points and 11 rebounds. Braylah Blakely had 16 and BreAnna Dawkins had 14 for the Mean Green, and Ash'Lynne Evans had eight rebounds.
North Texas pushed the pace from the start, changing up only to increase the intensity.
But Texas State turned an early 5-2 deficit into a commanding lead on the strength of three steals and layups and a pair of three-point field goals. That was a trend that would last the half and fueled a 19-2 run, lifting the Bobcats to a 21-7 lead with 13:34 left in the first half.
North Texas chopped the lead in half with a 13-4 run of its own. Blakely had six points in the run, getting inside the TSU defense on her way to a 13-point first half.
The Mean Green cut the gap to five at 25-20 and again at 35-20, getting strong effort from freshman Alexis Hyder and seven steals from on defense. But every North Texas push was countered by a TSU three-pointer. The Bobcats his eight-of-14 attempts in the first half, including a half-court shot by Diamond Ford at the buzzer to send TSU to halftime with a 45-37 lead.
The gut-punch of that three appeared to carry over to the start of the second half, as North Texas struggled with early turnovers and Texas State took advantage to build the largest lead of the game at 60-44 with 13:47 to play.
The Mean Green, however, regrouped. Hyder and Loryn Goodwin sparked North Texas to a 12-1 run to slice the lead back down to five to set up the nail-biting finish
North Texas's next game is in Dallas Thursday against SMU.