Freshman Alexis Hyder scored a career-high 23 points and Sara Stanley recorded her fourth career double-double to lead North Texas to a 64-62 win over Arkansas State on Sunday in Jonesboro, Ark.
The Mean Green held on in the final seconds as the Red Wolves missed a short-range jumper that would have tied the game. Laura McCoy got the rebound to secure the victory for UNT.
“They [Red Wolves] played well on their home court, but I thought we kept our poise pretty well,” UNT head coach Mike Petersen said. “This is a huge win for us, there is absolutely no question about that.”
The victory pulled the Mean Green to within a game of Arkansas State, which leads the Sun Belt Conference West Division. The Mean Green (9-13) improved to 8-5 in conference play, while the Red Wolves (12-10) fell to 9-4.
The Convocation Center was in an uproar to end the half as tensions rose between the two teams.
A reviewed post-whistle play that saw McKinney-native Ashley Olvera of Arkansas State and McCoy engaged in a small exchange brought the raucous crowd to its feet as UNT went to the dressing room with a 32-30 lead.
The Mean Green finally grabbed the momentum with about 12 minutes left in the game on a broken play that found junior Desiree Nelson in the corner for a contested 3-pointer that she drilled to put North Texas up 44-42.
The trio of Hyder, Stanley and Nelson continued to power the Mean Green through the next 11 minutes, while Petersen’s concentrated zone kept the Arkansas State offense from consistently being able to penetrate the paint.
Stanley finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Nelson came off the bench to also score 12 points in only 22 minutes of playing time.
“I’m extremely proud of my players tonight,” Petersen said. “We came in here, a tough facility to play in, and snapped [their] eight-game win streak. I think we have set the table for some really interesting games down the stretch.”
UNT next plays Western Kentucky at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Super Pit.