GREENVILLE, N.C. — A feisty North Texas team pushed the nation’s second-longest home winning streak to the brink, but East Carolina was able to outlast the Mean Green for a 56-49 win Saturday at Williams Arena.
The Mean Green held the Pirates to their second lowest offensive output of the season, but ECU extended its home winning streak to 26 games.
North Texas (10-14, 4-7 Conference USA) had a chance to tie the game, down 52-49 with 30 seconds left. The Mean Green found a wide-open Laura McCoy for a 3-pointer, but her shot came up short. ECU (21-3, 9-2) made four straight free throws in the final seconds to put the game away.
“I thought we gave a great effort tonight and kept battling all night,” UNT coach Mike Petersen said. “We had a chance late in the game with Laura, but we have to find a way to make some more plays down the stretch.”
UNT took a three-point lead into the break, holding the Pirates to just 22 points on 25 percent shooting in the half.
The Mean Green extended the lead to five at 37-32 on two free throws from Alexis Hyder with 14 minutes to play. The tide turned against North Texas and Hyder 30 seconds later.
Battling for a loose ball, Hyder tried to keep possession and throw the ball off an ECU player, but the ball hit the defender in the chin and Hyder was whistled for a technical foul. Momentum shifted as the Pirates reeled off eight more points in a 10-0 run capped by a basket from Jada Payne to make it 42-37. ECU never trailed again.
UNT mounted another comeback attempt, down 48-41 with six minutes left. Hyder made four straight free throws to cut the lead to three with 4:44 left.
Hyder later scored to make it 52-49 with 45 seconds to play. The Mean Green forced a turnover with 32 seconds left, setting up the final chance for McCoy.
Hyder finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Payne made the last four free throws and finished with 24 points.
North Texas will play host to UTEP at 7 p.m. Wednesday.