March 9, 2018
FRISCO - The North Texas women's basketball team's Cinderella run in the Conference USA tournament came to an end with a 77-61 loss to reigning league champion Western Kentucky on Friday night at the Ford Center at the Star.
"I'm never happy about a loss, but at no point in those 40 minutes was I disappointed in my team," Mean Green head coach Jalie Mitchell said. "I thought we showed up, we fought, we had energy and great effort."
The loss ends what has been the program's most successful season in 12 years and their best conference tournament showing in 16 years.
Terriell Bradley , who finished the season with 578 points, the third-most points scored in a single-season in school history and the most in 32 seasons, paced the team in scoring Friday night with 17 points, and Lauren Holmes joined Bradley in double-digits with 14. Deja Terrell added eight points off the bench and led the team with a career-high 10 rebounds with starting post Micayla Buckner in foul trouble.
North Texas jumped out to a 14-13 lead through the first quarter, scoring half of their points on fastbreaks. After the Mean Green built a 19-13 lead with five straight points to start the second quarter, WKU hit their next four shots, including three straight from beyond the arc to go ahead 24-21.
"In the first half, we gave up some buckets that game-plan wise, we did not want to give up," Mitchell said. "Ivy Brown and Sidnee Bopp hit some deep threes and I definitely could've lived without those."
The Lady Toppers began the second half on an 8-2 run and North Texas failed to convert a field goal for the first five minutes before a Mims layup made it 41-32. The Mean Green outrebounded WKU 15-9 in the third quarter, grabbing seven offensive rebounds, but could only cash them in for seven of their 12 points.
"We got to the rim and we didn't finish as well as we needed to," Mitchell said. "I thought we had some great opportunities to cut the lead, whether it was layups or free throws, and we didn't finish at the rate we needed to."
Holmes had four points in an 8-3 run that cut the North Texas deficit back to single-digits at 58-51. However, Mean Green mishaps allowed WKU to put the game on ice with three steals turned into layups to make it 73-57 with less than a minute to play.
"That was our time to continue to make a move and needed to extend that run, but they made some plays on that end and stepped up and made free throws," Mitchell said. "That's just a part of the game.
The Mean Green will return all 10 of their players on their roster next season.
Friday marks just the third loss of the season when North Texas is leading after the first quarter.
The Mean Green got 26 points from the bench, led by Holmes' 14.
North Texas tied for the third-most rebounds in a game this season (42).