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Women's basketball: Mean Green wins 77-70 in opener

Profile image for By Steve Gamel / For the Denton Record-Chronicle
By Steve Gamel / For the Denton Record-Chronicle

Mike Petersen admitted his decision to use 14 lineup changes in the first half of Saturday’s season opener against Missouri-Kansas City was a big reason why North Texas looked out of sorts early on. But the Mean Green got back on track in the second half to edge the Kangaroos 77-70 at the Super Pit.

UNT (1-0) used an 11-6 run late in the second half to break open a 50-all tie. The surge gave the Mean Green a 61-56 lead it never relinquished, as the defense held the Kangaroos (0-1) to one field goal in the remaining six and a half minutes.

“We were very disjointed early, and my ops guy who keeps that stuff [statistics] came to me and said, ‘This won’t help you at all — you had 14 lineup changes,’” Petersen said. “He was right: 14 lineups in 20 minutes is not good. But a lot of that was foul trouble-driven. So it was a little disjointed and choppy, but a year ago we might not have been able to handle that. We went out there and fought through all of that.”

UNT, 11-19 a year ago in Petersen’s first season as coach, finished the night with 30 fouls and shot 32 percent for the game. But four players reached double figures. Acheil Tac led the Mean Green with 13 points and 10 rebounds while sophomore Alexis Hyder added 13 points and eight rebounds. BreAnna Dawkins and JohVonn Darrington each poured in 10 points.

The win pushes the Mean Green’s all-time record against Missouri-Kansas City to 5-0. Saturday was their first meeting since Nov. 22, 2009. UNT will host Texas A&M at 7 p.m. Monday.

The first half certainly wasn’t pretty, with the lead changing hands five times. After taking a 19-16 lead thanks to two hard-earned shots in the paint from Hyder, UNT watched as the Kangaroos — who shot 32 percent in the first half and had 10 turnovers — went on a 9-1 run. Seven of those points were from free throws and gave Missouri-Kansas City a four-point lead.

But Tac and Hyder combined for eight points in a 12-4 UNT run. The Mean Green led 37-32 at halftime.

When senior Laura McCoy drilled a 3-pointer to open the second half, it gave UNT an eight-point lead and some much-needed momentum. But the Kangaroos would not go away and narrowed the lead to one point with another 10-2 run.

With 13 minutes remaining, Kelsey Barnwell hit a 3-pointer to give the Kangaroos a 49-47 lead. Barnwell finished with 13 points. Eilise O’Connor led all scorers with 27.

That’s when UNT started to sieze control. Desiree Nelson tied the game at 50 off a short jumper, which kicked off UNT’s last surge for the win.

“I think we’re getting more efficient and learning more about each other out there,” Hyder said. “We’re looking pretty good putting the ball in the right hands at the right times.”


UNT 77, Missouri-Kansas City 70

NORTH TEXAS (1-0) — Wynn 2-23 4-4 8, Tac 4-7 5-6 13, Hyder 6-11 1-3 13, McCoy 2-6 4-4 7, Dawkins 3-10 4-4 10, Evans 1-1 0-1 2, Jeter 2-3 2-2 6, Adams 1-16 1-2 3, Darrington 2-3 6-10 10, Nelson 3-8 0-0 5. Totals 26-94 27-36 77

MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY (0-1) — Nezianya 2-8 2-4 6, Mitchell 2-7 2-4 6, Barnwell 7-10 0-0 13, O’Connor 5-12 17-19 27, White 4-18 0-0 6, Collins 102 3-4 5, Leathers 1-7 2-2 4, Strickland 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 23-71 27-35 70.

Halftime — UNT 37-32 . 3-point goals — UNT 2-19 (Nelson 1-3, McCoy 1-3), UMKC 3-13 (White 2-7, Barnwell 1-1). Fouled out — none. Rebounds — UNT 48 (Tac 10), UMKC 51 (Mitchell 10, O’Connor 10). Assists — UNT 9 (Dawkins 3), UMKC 9 (Barnwell 3). Total fouls — UNT 30, UMKC 28.