North Texas hasn’t taken the easy path in its first season under head coach Mike Petersen.
The Mean Green opened at home against Texas State but has been on the road ever since, taking on a series of tough opponents and holding its own most of the way.
UNT nearly knocked off SMU in Dallas and then fell in triple overtime at Alabama.
The road won’t get any easier this weekend when the Mean Green plays twice at the New Mexico tournament, beginning with a game against the host Lobos at 6:30 tonight.
UNT (0-3) will play a second game in the event Saturday against Georgia or St. Bonaventure.
New Mexico has run out to a 4-0 start that includes a win over Texas Tech and a 60-37 thrashing of rival New Mexico State on Tuesday.
“It’s the nature of our schedule,” Petersen said. “We are playing a lot of really difficult games that are going to make us better.”
UNT already has shown signs of improvement, thanks largely to the development of a few key freshmen and transfers.
Sophomore guard BreAnna Dawkins leads UNT with an average of 15.7 points per game in her first season on the floor after transferring from Wichita State, while freshman Alexis Hyder is scoring 13.0 to go along with 9.0 rebounds a game.
Forward Braylah Blakely has emerged in her sophomore year and is scoring 10.0 points a game. Loryn Goodwin also is playing well as a freshman, averaging 8.3 points.
Laura McCoy and Sara Stanley, two reliable holdovers, are adding 8.0 and 6.3 points per game, respectively.
“It’s a good sign for us,” Petersen said of having so many young players contribute. “We have players who are playing key roles for us who have not been in that position before. Bre did not play last year, and Laura has to be a bigger scoring option.”
Petersen was particularly pleased with the way those players hung together in the loss to Alabama. The Crimson Tide didn’t put UNT away until scoring the first five points in the third overtime.
Bouncing back from that loss could be tough to do against UNM, which features four players who are averaging in double figures. Caroline Durbin, a senior guard from Austin Westlake, is posting 14.7 points a game to lead the Lobos, who will be looking for revenge today. UNT beat UNM 63-50 last season at the Super Pit.
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.