LAFAYETTE, La. (12/28/01) - The North Texas women's basketball team (7-4, 1-0) opened Sun Belt Conference play on Friday with a 70-64 raod victory over UL Lafayette (4-7, 0-1) at Earl K. Long Gym.
UL Lafayette hit four of its first six shots to open the second half and turn what was an 18-point North Texas lead at the 2:38 mark of the first half and a 12 point halftime lead into just a two-point advantage, 44-42. The Lady Eagles didn’t hit a shot until the 16:42 mark of the first half and the Ragin’ Cajuns eventually brought the game to its third tie, 50-50, with 13:08 left in the game. However, behind two break-away buckets by senior guard Rosalyn Reades, the Lady Eagles went on a 10-0 run to retake the lead 60-50. ULL would draw within one point of North Texas at 64-65 with 1:11 left to play, but the Lady Eagles scored the final five points of the game to get the victory.
“We came in with expectations that this was going to be a close game,” said North Texas head coach Tina Slinker. “Our team came to play and they did a good down the stretch.”
Minus their leading scorer in senior forward Jalie Mitchell (16.0 ppg), four North Texas players stepped up to score in double figures. Nicole Thomas scored a team-high 14 points, followed by Shannan Stephenson and Vilma Grismanauskaite with 12 each and Kim Blanton with 11. Grismanauskaite narrowly missed her first career double-double with nine rebounds as well.
“Vilma’s presence inside makes people adjust and she draws a lot of double teams, but she has been doing a good job of responding and played a big role for us tonight,” said Slinker.
The Lady Eagles hit their first three shots of the game to open up a 7-0 lead within the first two minutes, but ULL fought its way back from the slow start to tie the game twice in the first half. However, the Ragin’ Cajuns never could grab a lead and with the score tied 12-12, gave up a 16-4 run to the Lady Eagles that made the score 28-16. North Texas extended its lead to 18 points, 42-24, with 2:38 left in the opening period before UL Lafayette trimmed the margin to 12, 44-32, at the intermission period.
Thomas hit four shots from beyond the arch and scored all 14 of her points in the first half to lead North Texas.
“Anytime Nicole is on and scoring, she is a big threat for us,” said Slinker.
North Texas hit 53 percent of its shots in the first half in comparison to the Ragin’ Cajuns 46 percent. The Lady Eagles finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field and ULL hit for 42 percent. UNT badly outrebounded the Ragin’ Cajuns, 44-29, but had one more turnover (16-15).
North Texas remains on the road for its next outing, playing New Mexico State at 3:05 p.m. on Sunday.