Frisco is a short drive away from the North Texas campus in Denton and will play host to the 2018 Conference USA tournament. Both the men and the women will play under the same roof at The Star beginning on Wednesday at 11 p.m.
The Mean Green women’s basketball team (15-13, 6-10) are the number 11 seed and will take on the sixth seeded University of North Carolina at Charlotte (14-15, 10-6) at 2 p.m. The teams met once this season on Jan. 13 in Denton, with North Texas riding a 3-point wave to victory.
“I think we did a good job against them last time,” junior guard Brittany Smith said. “Just staying in front of their players, trying to contain them. Just be us and play our defense that we’re used to playing. I think we did a good job of that [last time], so we just have to keep that up.”
Smith and company exploited the Charlotte zone, shooting 10-of-18 from the 3-point arc on their way to a 73-68 victory.
“They were in zone most of the game,” junior guard Terriell Bradley said. “So it was just a lot of ball movement, cutting and getting to the middle. Just making the extra pass.”
Head coach Jalie Mitchell is as confident as can be with her ball club heading into Wednesday’s matinee.
“I think we are as ready as we can be,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to give our best. I like where we are in the bracket and look forward to competing.”
Beating the 49ers in the previous matchup is a plus, but Bradley insists it won’t have any bearing on the next one.
“No more, no less,” Bradley said of the previous meeting’s impact. “We know what we’re capable of and we’re just going to play our game.”
North Texas made the most out of Charlotte’s zone defense in January, but Mitchell notes that as of late their opposition has made an adjustment.
“They zoned us the entire game, but they manned the last couple games so we don’t know necessarily what we’re going to see,” Mitchell said. “But we’re prepared either way.”
Last year, as the number eight seed, the Mean Green won their first round matchup against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (this year’s top seed), which could bode well for their fortunes this time around.
“I think it helps a lot to have that comfort,” Mitchell said. “There’s no real panic or worry or anxiety about that part. We’ve been here, done that. We’ve been on this stage, we’ve played games back-to-back days. None of that we’re worried about. I think we’re in good shape.”
Smith thinks the team is ready to go and while there is little doubt about their conference-best defensive unit, hitting shots on the other end will decide the team’s fortune.
“I think our defense is where it needs to be,” Smith said. “We’re executing and getting the shots we want [on offense], we just need to make the shots. We run the plays, move the ball against the zone, attack the middle. We’re doing everything we can do. We just got to put the ball in.”
Her coach soon echoed the sentiment.
“We are going to get open shots, we just have to hit them,” Mitchell said.
Bradley, who was named to the C-USA All-Conference First Team Monday, said that while the Mean Green have not been playing the kind of basketball they were during their 10-4 start to the regular season, they are more than ready to go for the 2018 edition of the C-USA Tournament.
“I don’t think we’ve been playing our best,” said Bradley, the third-best scorer in C-USA. “Towards the end, we lost some games I don’t think we should have. But we’re all ready to go. We know what we can do. We’re ready.”
Tipoff against the 49ers arrives at 2 p.m. and the game can be watched live at The Star in Frisco or viewed online via Facebook.