North Texas didn’t go through any dramatic changes in the three days after suffering one of its tougher losses in recent years.
The Mean Green ran out largely the same batch of players Monday for their game Alcorn State as they did for their season opener against Mid-America Christian.
The big difference UNT coach Jalie Mitchell saw was in how the Mean Green followed their game plan.
UNT stuck to it during their 67-31 win over Alcorn State on Monday at the Super Pit.
That marked a big change from a disheartening 61-59 loss to MAC, a team that competes on the NAIA level, to open the season.
“We tightened up some things that we needed to,” Mitchell said. “The biggest thing was our focus, discipline and execution. We didn’t execute our game plan the other night. It was a complete 360 tonight. That is where we are going to stay.
“It’s part of the growth process.”
UNT had nowhere to go but up after its opener and picked up its first win of the season behind a standout defensive effort. The 31 points UNT allowed broke the program record for the lowest number of points allowed in a game. The previous mark was set in a 62-33 win over New Orleans in the 2005-06 season.
Alcorn State (0-3) shot just 18.2% (14 of 77) from the field.
UNT entered its game against the Lady Braves off a dismal shooting night of its own against MAC. The Mean Green took 35 shots from 3-point range against the Evangels and hit just two. UNT was much more selective in its win the Lady Braves while finishing 5-for-17 from beyond the arc.
The Mean Green got the ball inside to Anisha George and Destinee McDowell. George finished with 18 points, while McDowell added 14.
“We stuck to the game plan today and were more focused,” George said. “Our heads were in the right space. No one wants to be 0-2. We were determined to play well.”
UNT has just two returning guards in Callie Owens and Trena Mims. Owens made her season debut against Alcorn and provided the Mean Green a lift while scoring eight points and pulling down five rebounds. She missed UNT’s season opener due to injury.
“It helps to have Callie back,” Mitchell said. “Trena was our only returning guard last game. That makes a difference.”
That experience certainly paid dividends on the defensive end.
Alcorn was competitive in a 57-51 loss to Memphis and a 67-62 loss to Stephen F. Austin but couldn’t get on track against the Mean Green. Nia McCalphia finished with seven points to lead the Lady Braves.
UNT led 10-9 before ripping off a 16-1 run and cruised the rest of the half behind Owens and Destinee McDowell. Both scored six points off the bench for UNT, which led 29-16 at halftime.
UNT also led early against the Evangels before seeing the game get away. This time the Mean Green didn’t let up and cruised to the win.
UNT knew heading into the season that it would go through an adjustment period with several newcomers filling key roles. The Mean Green started three freshmen against Alcorn State in N’Yah Boyd, Jazion Jackson and Randi Thompson.
UNT was far from a finished product in its first win of the season. What mattered most to Mitchell is that her team made significant progress following its opener.
“Everyone stepped up and contributed in the way we needed them to in order to win,” Mitchell said. “We will see this group grow each time out on the floor.”
North Texas 67, Alcorn State 31
ALCORN STATE (0-2) — Isler 2-17 1-1 5, Bernard 0-2 0-0 0, Rascoe 0-7 0-0 0, Hall 0-9 0-2 0, Hargrove 2-10 0-0 5, McCalphia 3-7 0-1 7, Obillo 0-6 0-0 0, Malwal 1-2 0-0 2, Kirkland 3-8 0-0 6, Broughton 0-0 0-0 0, Clark 3-9 0-0 6. Totals 14-77 1-4 31.
NORTH TEXAS (1-1) — Townley 2-4 0-0 4, George 9-11 0-0 18, Boyd 1-8 2-4 4, Jackson 2-8 0-0 4, Thompson 2-5 0-0 5, Mims 1-2 0-2 2, Owens 3-8 0-2 8, McDowell 5-9 4-4 15, Jones 3-7 0-0 8. Totals 28-62 6-12 67.
Alcorn State 10 6 6 9 — 31 North Texas 21 8 16 22 — 67
Three-point goals – Alcorn 2-17 (Isler 0-1, Rascoe 0-3, Hall 0-3, Hargrove 1-2, McCalphia 1-3, Obillo 0-4, Clark 0-1) UNT 5-17 (Boyd 0-1, Jackson 0-2, Thompson 1-4, Mims 0-1, Owens 2-4, Jones 2-5). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – Alcorn 41 (Kirkland 8), UNT 62 (George 12). Assists – Alcorn 3 (three tied, 1), UNT 17 (Jackson 8). Total fouls – Alcorn 16, UNT 13. A – 532.