North Texas appeared as if it was well on its way to completing a sweep of a three-game homestand at the Super Pit on Tuesday. Then Kaitlyn Petersen heated up, changing everything.
Grand Canyon’s junior guard hit one 3-pointer after another down the stretch run of the second half and then in overtime.
By the time the Gonzaga transfer was done, she had nailed six shots from behind the arc and left UNT wondering what had gone wrong in a 67-65 overtime loss.
“When you are up 17 with seven minutes left, you have to close the game out,” UNT coach Mike Petersen said. “You can’t go seven minutes and score four points and expect to win.”
Grand Canyon (6-0) essentially needed the perfect scenario to play out to rally and got exactly that, thanks largely to Kaitlyn Petersen, who scored a game-high 23 points.
Petersen caught fire after UNT (3-3) appeared as if it would coast after Ash’Lynne Evans hit a layup to put the Mean Green up 57-40. UNT went into a funk but was still up 61-51 when Briesha Wynn hit a jumper with 2:46 left.
UNT couldn’t close the game out and gave up a 10-0 run that sent the contest into overtime. Petersen hit three 3s in the closing moments to spark the run.
“It didn’t surprise us that she hit those shots,” Mike Petersen said. “Some of that is on me. I had us go man-[to-man] at the end to try to prevent her from getting good looks. She hadn’t had that many when we were in the zone. We went man and she started getting looks.”
UNT was still clinging to a 61-60 lead when Johnna Brown went to the line with 13.5 seconds left. She hit the first free throw to tie the game but missed the second.
UNT had a chance to win the game at the buzzer and got the ball to BreAnna Dawkins, who drove to the lane and kicked the ball to Wynn, who hit a baseline jumper that was waved off then Dawkins was called for a charge.
The turnover was one of six UNT committed after taking its 17-point lead.
UNT went 6:33 without scoring, from Wynn’s jumper until Achiel Tac hit one with 1:13 left in overtime that brought UNT to within 64-63.
Wynn led UNT with 14 points, while Alexis Hyder added 11.
“We were trying to get the ball to Alexis in the post,” Tac said. “She fell down, so Janis [Peterson] passed it to me. I was looking to pass, but coach yelled at me to take the shot, so I took it.”
Grand Canyon answered with a Judy Jones jumper before Hyder pulled UNT back to within 66-65 with a layup.
Kaitlyn Petersen hit a free throw with 13.1 seconds left to put Grand Canyon back up 67-65 before UNT had one last chance to extend the game.
Candice Adams missed a layup, and Desiree Nelson missed a shot in the lane that turned out to be UNT’s last chance.
“We have to learn how to finish games,” Nelson said. “We didn’t take care of the ball late.”
That was a surprise considering how well UNT played early.
The Mean Green ran out to a 38-26 lead at the end of the first half, when UNT got off to a hot start. UNT shot 52 percent (13-for-25) from the floor and hit four of its seven 3-point attempts.
Wynn scored 12 points in the first half for UNT, which cranked up the pressure defensively and forced 14 turnovers.
Grand Canyon turned the tables in the second half, when UNT committed a pair of turnovers after going up 17 that helped start the Antelopes’ rally.
“We were not strong with the ball late and threw it right to them,” Mike Petersen said. “Those two turnovers got them started, and then we were not resilient enough to score enough points or get enough stops to finish the game.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.
Grand Canyon 67, North Texas 65
GRAND CANYON (6-0) — Jones 7-13 6-10 20, Brown 5-8 3-5 13, Daniels 2-9 0-1 4, Johnson 0-4 0-0 0, Petersen 7-13 3-4 23, Touchard 0-4 3-3 3, Craig 1-6 0-0 3, Paskell 0-3 0-0 0, Grayson 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 0-0 1-2 1, Morris 0-0 0-0 0, McDonnell 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 22-63 16-25 67.
NORTH TEXAS (3-4) — Wynn 5-13 3-3 14, Tac 2-4 0-0 4, Hyder 4-8 3-4 11, Adams 0-2 0-0 0, Nelson 2-5 1-3 6, Evans 4-4 0-1 8, McCoy 0-2 0-0 0, Peterson 2-6 2-2 7, Darrington 2-5 1-2 6, Dawkins 4-14 1-1 9. Totals 25-63 11-16 65.
Halftime — UNT 38-26. 3-point goals – GC 7-29 (Jones 0-1, Brown 0-1, Daniels 0-3, Johnson 0-4, Petersen 6-10, Touchard 0-3, Craig 1-5, Paskell 0-2), UNT 4-10 (Wynn 1-2, Hyder 0-1, Nelson 1-2, McCoy 0-1, Peterson 1-2, Darrington 1-2). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – GC 44 (Brown 10), UNT 41 (Darrington 7). Assists – GC 8 (Jones, Touchard 3). UNT 13 (Adams 3). Total fouls – GC 13, UNT 25. A – 718.