It wasn’t looking good early. The forecast for North Texas on Thursday night appeared as grim as the weather that currently drips down on Denton.
Seeking their fourth straight win, the Mean Green (15-10, 6-7) scored just four points in the first quarter at Old Dominion University (8-20, 6-8) and did not take a lead until a little over two minutes remained in the fourth quarter. However, they did take that lead eventually, ending the game on a 15-3 run and winning 55-52.
“In the second half we picked it up defensively,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “That’s always big for us because if we don’t have our defense, our offense suffers. We got some big stops, pushed it in transition and made some big time plays from three’s to and-1’s to making our free throws. All of those things were huge.”
After losing the first quarter 13-4, Mitchell’s team flipped the script in the fourth, outscoring the Lady Monarchs 20-9 in the decisive period. After being down and out for almost the entire game, an unconventional win is still very much a win, as coach noted.
“This is basketball,” Mitchell said. “It’s a game of runs. It just happens like that sometimes and you have to figure out how to win.”
Behind junior guard Terriell Bradley, they indeed found a way. Bradley utilized a 12-for-13 free throw performance to lead the team and the game with 23 points. She was one of the two double-figure scorers for either team and added five rebounds to top off her night.
“It’s super important [to make free throws],” Bradley said. “Those are free shots so it’s important that I capitalize at the line. Coach Mitchell tells me to be super aggressive and go downhill.”
North Texas shot just 26.3 percent in the first half before correcting that number in the second to 44.4 percent. When it came time to put the game away, the Mean Green took advantage of Old Dominion’s fouls and made all 10 of their free throws in the fourth quarter.
Guided by their perfect fourth quarter at the line, North Texas shot 20-for-24 (83.3 percent) from the foul line. The four game winning streak is the second of the season for the team, after they started non-conference play with four straight wins.
“We’ve got a lot of momentum right now,” Bradley said.
The other double-digit scorer also came from the victorious visitors. Sophomore guard Adrianna Henderson scored 10 points off the bench and added four rebounds.
Winning over Old Dominion gives the Mean Green a 2-0 season series sweep against the conference foe.
“We’re all very energetic, very ecstatic right now,” freshman forward Deja Terrell said. “We know we can play with anybody in our conference. This conference is anybody’s game. As long as we believe in ourselves, we all believe that we can win.”
Next up: North Texas comes back home and hosts Marshall (8-18, 2-11) on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The game can be watched nationally on ESPN3.