North Texas is the CUSA Tourney Cinderella squad and pulled off an upset of 3rd ranked La Tech on International Women’s Day. Combined with yesterday’s upset of 6th ranked Charlotte and you have a North Texas Women’s team primed for a showdown against WKU in prime time.
The turnout for the men against Tech last night was significant and the hope — from everyone around the program — is that the same group will turn up for that one.
In the mean time, everyone is feeling good. Jalie Mitchell:
“I’m so proud of our girls. We were resilient”
Nearly the entire green section behind the bench paused to hug and congratulate Jalie Mitchell for her success after the game. NT came out and looked hungrier than the Lady Techsters and that made all the difference. Tech got back into things with a viscous press that caused a handful of turnovers and sloppy play but NT entered the fourth quarter up 7 points and simply outlasted their way to victory.
It helped that Trena Mims was perfect from the line — 9/9 — and Teriell Bradley hit clutch jumpers to break the tough 2-3 zone late.
Tech got back into things with a full court press that collapsed into a 2-3 zone. NT had more than enough trouble with the press-breaking and then looked uncomfortable executing against the zone. Grace Goodheart had some wide open looks that didn’t drop, and everyone got a little sloppy with the ball.
Tech’s Alexus Malone was incredible, putting up 27 points and 6 assists. She forced NT’s Deja Terrell and Micayla Malone to foul out with her bullying inside. When NT would double, she found Reauna Cleaver for a slicing bucket. Tech fought back throughout the third and early fourth quarters to trim the lead to only 4 points. NT managed to free throw their way out and survive the comeback.
Craig Robertson was in the court-side seats. Various media sideline reporter types came up to him for interviews. During one request, he had to interrupt a few times to cheer on NT — including Bradley’s breakaway bucket in the first half.
Everyone is over the venue. It has been well-established that the Star is quirky but interesting and does not distract from the overall experience much beyond what any non-traditional venue does. The confines of the court are the same and to the players, nothing has really changed.
In talking to assorted fans — locals, NT alumni, visitors, band members — the consensus is that the venue is cool, everyone is enjoying it, and it kind of feels like a festival or convention. It is much better than having multiple venues for the men’s and women’s tournaments.
The refs had to do a little chastising — they said something to Lauren Holmes but she denied anything. NT was on a roll, hitting everything. Everyone had scored that had played at that point. Tech tried something like a press which forced NT to run more.
NT came out ready to play — I think it had to do with playing a tough game just yesterday. Had the mindset already. Took Tech a quarter to adjust
Mims has such a pretty shot.
Bradley has had some clutch buckets out here late despite not shooting well overall.
Malone from Tech is a handful. She can shoot the three but was killing NT inside. When they double, she finds Cleaver for a cut and a bucket. The press was really throwing NT, who had the offense cooking. It made everyone uncomfortable. It forces NT to scramble, then the 2/3 matchup zone requires patience that is throwing NT off.
It was not quite a Roaring Comeback from Tech, but it is a testament to how good they are.
NT played a tough Charlotte yesterday and that helped them get their mind right. Tech took a while to adjust but they are showing why they were 3rd in the league.
Bradley sized up Malone 2:28, went baseline and got the benefit of the ref’s call. It isn’t a basket but it keeps the ball in NT’s hands and allows everyone time to think. That was how NT survived. The offense looks creaky at times and the time-wasting was helpful.