Going into the 2017-2018 basketball season, the women’s basketball program was certainly on the up and up. The Conference USA preseason poll reflected as much, projecting the Mean Green to finish eighth in the conference after finishing ninth in 2016-2017.
Sure, it is just a modest one spot jump, but the Mean Green went on to record their first winning season since 2005-2006 and put the conference on notice of the rising program in Denton.
In November, when the season tipped off against Texas Woman’s University, the Mean Green ran off three straight wins and won seven of eight games to start the new year.
Unfortunately, they were unable to sustain the breakneck pace and struggled in Conference USA play, going 6-10 by the end of it.
The Mean Green were an exceptional home team, though, feeding off the growing crowds at The Super Pit. Before losing their last two games of the year, North Texas was 9-4 on their home court. The core pieces of stable coaching and a good home record are in place to help the program continue to grow.
“We played, throughout the season, where people want to come watch us play and see what we can do,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said after the regular season finale. “That’s how you want to be at home. You have to win more than you lose and play fun, exciting basketball.”
Two Mean Green stars took home All-Conference awards this year. The first being junior Terriell Bradley who was named to the Conference USA All-Conference First Team.
As the leading scorer for North Texas at 18.6 points per game, Bradley’s average was third in the conference. Her 148 free throws was second in C-USA and 83 percent from the line was third.
On Feb. 8 at Florida International University, Bradley scored a career-high 32 points and made a program-record nine 3-pointers on just 10 attempts. Twice named the C-USA Player of the Week, she scored her thousandth point in 2018 and her total of 527 points this season ranks as fourth-most in program history.
Freshman Lauren Holmes earned First Team honors herself, named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team. In her first season with the Mean Green, Holmes was the team’s second-leading scorer with 8.9 points per game. She also finished third in the entire conference with 2.1 steals per game.
North Texas possessed the best defensive unit of any team in the conference this season. Allowing just 55.7 points per game, the best clip in Conference USA.
As great as the start to the season was, the finish is what will be remembered from this team.
It has not been since Mitchell was a player herself, in 2002, that North Texas won a pair of games in a conference tournament.
Not reflected by their number 11 seed heading into the tournament, there was a strong belief in the locker room that something special could happen.
“A lot of people didn’t think we would get this far, but we knew ourselves that we could,” Holmes said.
At the Conference USA tournament, North Texas took down the sixth seeded University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the first round, and then overcame the tall task of facing off against one of C-USA’s top teams. The Mean Green used a hot start and a brilliant free throw performance to upset third seeded Louisiana Tech.
In the semifinals, second seeded Western Kentucky proved the toughest match yet and ended the Mean Green’s Cinderella run. Nevertheless, getting this far signaled a turning point for the school.
“Every single player in that locker room are players that we recruited, players we brought in and players we believed in that could get us to this point,” Mitchell said after the season’s conclusion. “We have the right people in place from staff to players, and I think we’re going to continue to movie forward.”