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North Texas 'punches back' in clash of Dallas rivals

The Mean Green is victorious in a down to the wire game in front of a home crowd 60-57 at the Super Pit.

Rick Yeatts/RJY Photography

(DENTON, TX) — A messy start for SMU caused mistakes that would later cost the Mustangs their first road victory of the season. SMU had a low scoring start only putting 11 points on the board in both the first and second quarter. This is unusual for a team, led by head coach Rhonda Rompola, who is averaging 71.4 points a game.

North Texas did not have the best start either.

During the first half, both teams played disconnected. North Texas struggled to maintain control over the ball causing turnovers that, of course, SMU capitalized on. The Mustangs, forward Alicia Froling more specifically, received multiple traveling violations from the start of the first quarter to the very end. This isn't the first game she has dealt with this issue this season.

Normally the Mustangs are outscoring their opponents 182-159 in the second half alone this season. That wasn't the case tonight as SMU only shot 38.6% from the field for the entire game.

Early mistakes by North Texas allowed for the Mustangs to chip away at the lead and hold the Mean Green tied at 55-55 in the third quarter.

Although SMU scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, it was not enough to outlast North Texas. As the game clock dwindled down to the last few seconds, the Mustangs were unable to score again as the Mean Green collect their first win at the Super Pit 60-57.

"I thought our team did some things we've been talking about in practice...we took some punches there.

"We held on, we took the punches and got back up, we punched back and came out with the victory, so I'm proud of them for accomplishing that in itself," said Coach Mitchell.

North Texas guard Kelsey Criner, led the team in scoring with 17 points and eight rebounds. Adding to the score, center Bria Frierson with 10 points and guard Candice Adams with 12 points. Adams played tonight's game with her right leg in a clunky brace, but still managed to bring an offensive threat to the court.

Senior standout Acheil Tac had a quiet night only scoring two points, but she still leads C-USA in three categories: FG percentage, rebounds, and defensive rebounds.

"She got into some foul trouble, and you know, you can't get stats on the bench...thankfully we had some people that in her absence stepped up. Bria Frierson was really huge for us," said Coach Mitchell.

The Mustangs leading scorer was guard McKenzie Adams with 16 points and four rebounds. Adams also had help from guard Ashley Gibson with 14 points, forward Stephanie Collins and guard Morgan Bolton tied with 10 points.

After the Mean Green upset No. 17 OU 61-57, they have not been able to win another game before tonight's victory. Coming off of a two-game losing streak, first-year head coach Jalie Mitchell has made a statement in her first season thus far.

"I won't say we got complacent at all. But I will say I think we relaxed a little bit and did not do the things that got us that win at OU. So I think it was a big learning experience for our team," said Coach Mitchell.