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Basketball: Wynn finds comfort zone with Mean Green

Profile image for By Brett Vito / Staff Writer
By Brett Vito / Staff Writer

Briesha Wynn caught the ball in the corner and fired at the rim late in North Texas’ game against UAB this month.

Wynn seemed like an unlikely candidate to take that shot with 82 seconds left and UNT clinging to a one-point lead. The junior has played in the paint for much of her career —and still does.

There is just a lot more to Wynn’s game these days, which was readily apparent when she drilled the shot to help the Mean Green knock off the Blazers. That win helped UNT build the momentum it has established heading into a game at 4 p.m. today at East Carolina (20-3, 8-2 Conference USA).

Wynn and the Mean Green have (10-13, 4-6) have won two of their last three games and will look to extend that run against one of the top teams in C-USA. The UNT men will be in action against East Carolina at 7 tonight at the Super Pit, where they will try to snap a five-game losing streak.

“We are playing well,” UNT women’s coach Mike Petersen said. “If you take our last three games, out of 120 minuets, we have led for 117 minutes and 27 seconds. That is pretty good.”

Wynn has been a key reason UNT has been out in front for much of the way in its last three games. The TCU transfer has settled in during her first season playing with the Mean Green after sitting out last season. The 6-foot forward has scored in double figures in six of her last seven games.

Wynn scored a career-high 21 points in a win over Florida International on Jan. 22 and led UNT with 17 points in a win over Old Dominion last week. She is UNT’s leading scorer at 11.2 points per game and is starting to capitalize on the potential that made her a top prospect coming out of North Crowley.

Wynn played her first two seasons at TCU and was a key contributor for the Horned Frogs, but has really taken off since finding her place at UNT.

“I wanted to be part of a program where I could be myself on and off the court,” Wynn said. “TCU was a beautiful school and has a nice program, but I wanted to find a place I could be comfortable. I am more comfortable at a public school with people that I know and are like me. I feel like I fit in better here.”

Wynn said she enjoys the diversity of the UNT campus and the opportunities she has, not only as an athlete but also as a student at a large state university.

Wynn also has found a situation that fits her skills on the floor at UNT. Petersen called her a natural small forward. She started out playing that spot for the Mean Green but moved to the power forward spot in the middle of the year.

Wynn has been a matchup problem for opponents ever since.

“She is a handful at the 4 [power forward],” Petersen said. “She is strong enough to go post up against bigger kids but still has the perimeter package where if you put a slower player on her she can drive it by you and make a perimeter shot. The position change as much as anything has been big for her.”

Wynn’s ability to play on the perimeter gives UNT a chance to play numerous combinations of players.

“She is a good all-around player and has a variety of skills,” UNT forward Alexis Hyder said. “She makes our lineups better and gives us a chance to put three bigs on the court at once.”

Wynn attributes her success on the court in part to the comfort level she has found with her role.

“Coach understands the way I play and has made the adjustment to take advantage of it,” Wynn said. “He understands what I am comfortable doing and uses my versatility.”

Wynn’s teammates see her as someone they can look to in tough times on and off the floor.

“Briesha is very vocal and has a lot of leadership qualities,” senior guard Laura McCoy said. “She has played a lot of college basketball and helps the younger girls on the floor.”

The UNT men are facing some tough times of their own after falling to Old Dominion 72-62 on Thursday, their fifth straight loss. The Mean Green led 58-57 with 3:39 left but was outscored 15-4 the rest of the way.

The loss dropped UNT (11-13, 2-8) into a tie for last place in C-USA.

One of the Mean Green’s best chances for a win the rest of the season could come today. The Pirates (13-12, 2-8) are in the four-way tie for last place with Marshall and Rice.

“We are disappointed, embarrassed, whatever you want to call it, but no one is going to feel sorry for us,” UNT men’s coach Tony Benford said following the Mean Green’s loss to ODU. “The only way for us to get out of the cellar is to get to work.

“We will prepare for East Carolina. They will be desperate for a win, too.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and vis Twitter at @brettvito.