BOCA RATON, Fla. — David Blakely wore a Florida Atlantic visor and North Texas shirt Saturday.
The choice of attire seemed a little out of place at FAU Arena for a showdown between two of the better teams in the Sun Belt Conference, but it only made sense for a family with divided loyalties.
Blakely and his wife, Rachael, flew from Texas to see their daughters face off for the first of what figures to be at least a few times in college.
Briah Blakely got the better of the first matchup when FAU opened a big lead early in the second half and hung on for a 79-67 win over UNT and Braylah Blakely, the younger of the sisters who played at Cedar Hill.
FAU’s victory snapped UNT’s five-game winning streak.
“I have never played against my sister,” Braylah Blakely said. “I have always played with her. It was fun. I wanted to win really bad so I could throw it in her face.”
Braylah Blakely, a sophomore forward, signed with UNT out of high school, while Briah,
a junior guard, played at McLennan Community College for two seasons.
Briah Blakely considered playing with her sister at UNT but ended up at FAU, adding intrigue to what already was a key game. UNT (7-11, 6-3 Sun Belt) entered the day atop the conference’s West Division standings, while FAU (10-7, 7-2) was one game back in the East Division.
David and Rachael Blakely decided the game was one they couldn’t miss. The couple spent the week in Florida and managed to catch three of their daughters’ games.
Rachael Blakely could tell how excited her daughters were to play each other.
“They played together for years, from the time they were little to high school and even in summer league,” Rachael Blakely said. “They have been talking about this game. They are excited about it. When they play in Denton, the whole family will be there.”
Braylah Blakely will enter that game Feb. 20 looking for a measure of revenge after FAU closed Saturday’s game on a 12-4 run behind the tandem of Chenise Miller and Breana Turner.
Miller posted a double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Turner added 17 points.
Loryn Goodwin led UNT with 25 points, her second consecutive game with a career-high scoring total. The freshman finished with 19 points in UNT’s win over Florida International on Thursday.
Briah Blakely finished with five points, four steals and three assists, while Braylah Blakely had four points, four blocks, two steals and two rebounds.
“I am sure it was cool for their parents and kind of stressful,” UNT coach Mike Petersen said. “They were going to get a winner no matter what. I thought Braylah handled it well. She played hard and gave us good energy off the bench. She made a lot of good plays for us.”
Petersen said UNT just didn’t make enough plays in key spots, one of which came at the end of the first half when FAU went on a 12-4 run and took a 40-31 lead at halftime.
Briah Blakely hit the key shot in the surge, a 3-pointer from the wing that put the Owls up by eight.
The elder of the Blakely sisters didn’t say much to her teammates before the game about the importance of playing her sister.
“Briah is pretty subdued and even-keeled,” FAU coach Kellie Lewis-Jay said. “She gets excited on the court but is level-headed off the court. I asked her when she last talked to her sister. She said, ‘I don’t know. It’s been awhile.’ Obviously, deep down she is excited. We would never know it, because she doesn’t share those things much.”
UNT made runs in the second half and pulled to within four points several times.
The Mean Green cut its deficit to 42-38 on a BreAnna Dawkins three-point play and was back within 54-50 on a Goodwin 3 at the 14:30 mark.
FAU appeared to put UNT away when it grabbed a 64-51 lead after Latavia Dempsey hit a pair of free throws following a technical foul call on Dawkins that seemed to spark the Mean Green.
UNT went on a 9-0 run that cut its deficit to 64-60.
“We made a couple of really good runs,” Petersen said. “We talked about it at halftime. It probably wasn’t going to be just one run that got us back in the game. At the end of each of those runs, we would shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Tuner essentially put UNT away when she hit back-to-back layups to give FAU a 71-63 lead with 3:49 left.
FAU finished with a 52-35 edge in rebounds and forced 21 turnovers, which Petersen said was the reason Briah Blakely’s team picked up the win.
UNT is headed to Conference USA next year, when FAU also is expected to join the league, setting up more showdowns between the sisters.
Goodwin could sense that each of those games will be important to Braylah Blakely.
“She really wanted to win that game,” Goodwin said. “I have an older sister. I know when I played against her I wanted to win. It was a big game for her. She showed a ton of heart.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
Florida Atlantic 79, UNT 67
NORTH TEXAS (7-11, 6-3) — Stanley 1-3 0-2 2, Hyder 8-13 3-5 19, McCoy 0-5 0-0 0, Dawkins 6-16 4-5 16, Goodwin 8-19 6-8 25, Evans 0-0 1-2 1, Blakely 2-5 0-0 4, Tac 0-0 0-0 0, Nelson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-62 14-22 67.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC (10-7, 7-2) — Miller 10-14 2-5 22, Blakely 2-5 0-0 5, Smith 4-11 0-0 9, Stevenson 3-6 0-0 7, Brooks 1-3 1-2 3, Robinson 3-15 0-0 7, Dempsey 2-10 4-5 9, Turner 7-8 3-4 17, Schrouder 0-0 0-0 0, Queen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-73 10-16 79.
Halftime — FAU 40-31. 3-point goals — UNT 3-13 (McCoy 0-3, Dawkins 0-1, Goodwin 3-9). FAU 5-17 (Blakely 1-1, Smith 1-5, Stevenson 1-1, Brooks 0-2, Robinson 1-3, Dempsey 1-5). Fouled out — none. Rebounds — UNT 35 (Hyder 8), FAU 52 (Miller 14). Assists — UNT 13 (McCoy, Dawkins 4), FAU 21 (Smith, Dempsey 6). Total fouls — UNT 13, FAU 21. A — 323.