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Women’s basketball comeback falls short in Mobile
Tim Cato / Senior Staff Writer
The Mean Green women’s basketball team roared back from a 16-point deficit late in the second half on Saturday, but couldn’t complete the comeback, falling 65-61 to the University of South Alabama.
It was the third straight loss for UNT (10-18, 9-10) in the next to last regular season game. The Mean Green scored the first 10 points of the game and later led 26-16, but USA (15-12, 8-10) recovered during an 18-0 run that ended the first half and started the second.
“The last eight minutes of the first half cost us the game,” head coach Mike Petersen said. “When they made a couple baskets, our mistake response was horrible. We just stopped competing in the first half.”
With eight minutes left in the game and the scoreboard displaying 55-39, junior guard Desiree Nelson sparked the comeback with 10 straight points – her only points of the game.
“Coach always tells me to be ready throughout the week because you never know who will get the opportunity,” Nelson said. “Fortunately my shot was going in and I was able to make the most of my opportunity.”
Although UNT closed the gap to three points in the final minute, the clock ran out on the comeback attempt. Petersen said that the team’s play at the beginning and end of the game thrilled him and that he wanted to see 40 minutes of that “effort and intensity” moving forward.
The game was nothing like the previous match-up between the two teams, where UNT handed USA a 67-47 loss on Jan. 12.
“No one should be deceived by North Texas’ overall record,” USA head coach Rick Pietri said. “That’s a very good team, a well-coached team with a lot of good players and they stuck us up there when we played them in Denton.”
Freshman forward Alexis Hyder led the Mean Green with 16 points and 12 rebounds – her seventh double-double of the year. Like her coach, she emphasized that the team needed to give consistent effort.
“I think the run at the end is just a quality of when we play hard,” Hyder said. “It just exposes that we have to play like this all 40 minutes.”
The regular season will conclude with UNT facing off against Sun Belt West Division-leading Arkansas State University at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, as the Mean Green looks for a win before the SBC tournament begins.
“Our goal is to win and we didn’t do that, but a run like that shows we have the potential to play and beat anyone,” Nelson said.