UNT celebrates

North Texas Women Advance, Beat Southern Miss 49-46

North Texas women’s basketball is on to face Rice in the next round after beating USM 49-46 in the first game of the first round of the women’s tournament in Frisco.

This year’s basketball tournament began on a cold and blustery day, and perhaps as cliche as that can sound, it is nonetheless true.

The women had a good performance last season, beating Charlotte and Louisiana Tech in upsets before losing to eventual winners WKU. They began this year’s contest against Southern Miss, something like an evenly matched squad that finished just one seed higher.

The first quarter was ugly — as might be expected from two teams playing at 11am. That’s a rec-league basketball time, not tournament level stuff.

The second-period was all NT — they took a nice 26-14 lead to the half and it was through Charlene Shepherd and Terriell Bradley that they did it. The calm, bucket-getting Bradley made some tough shots even though she was upset with some of the hacking USM was doing. Shepherd had 7 in the period to go with an assist and three rebounds.

Both Bradley and Shepherd visibly complained to refs about what they thought were fouls throughout the game. It was rough and chippy, and the referees let them play on despite it.

The third quarter was all USM’s Shonte Hailes. Through floaters and jumpshots, she single-handedly pulled USM back. NT held on to a one-point lead after being outscored 21-10 in the quarter.

NT shot just 30% in the quarter, missing shots and turning the ball over. Anisha George missed two layups and rolled her eyes in disgust at her own performance. She was consoled by her team afterward.

NT got good looks and had chances but just could not make them or take advantage of them.

The fourth began the same way. Missed shots from Owens and Deja Terrell — on a break, from a nice pass from Smith. USM did not have all the luck either, with Megan Brown turning the ball over underneath her own basket unguarded.

With 7 minutes left it was 37 – 36 NT, and Bradley checked back in. Both team struggled for a while. The game changer wasnt wearing 23 however. Velma Mtichell and Trena Mims both hit huge buckets. Mitchell hit a three on her first touch after checking in, and Mims drew three fouls for six freebies.

She wasn’t perfect from the line, but that aggression slowed the game down and got NT good looks and allowed them to set their defense.

With :40 left and NT clinging to a two-point lead courtesy of Terriell Badley’s two free throws, Charlene Shepherd fould Shonte Hailes. Hailes hit her head on the floor after falling awkwardly and left the game. USM missed the second of two free throws and that but got the rebound.

The furious 30-seconds that followed saw a layup missed by USM, a rebound by Leaphart, a block and finally a UNT rebound by Shephard.

Bradley was fouled on the ensuing possession and drained both. NT up 49-46 with just :07 remaining. Both threes from USM were off the mark. NT won.