North Texas coach Jalie Mitchell works from the sideline during a game last season at the Super Pit. UNT will host Xavier (Louisiana) on Wednesday. 

Keira Neal, one of the North Texas women's basketball team's top freshman, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee during practice this week.

Neal came down awkwardly in the paint on Monday, fell to the floor and immediately grabbed her knee. She was helped from the court and returned on crutches at the end of practice.

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Denton Record-Chronicle late Friday night that Neal has a torn ACL.

The injury will end Neal's season.

Neal is a key member of the signing class UNT announced in November. The Oklahoma native averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds per game as a senior at Edmond (Oklahoma) Santa Fe and was named the Daily Oklahoman's Big All-City Player of the Year.

UNT coach Jalie Mitchell praised Neal's defensive prowess when she announced the Mean Green's signing class.

"Keira Neal is a defensive guru," Mitchell said. "She can guard anybody for 94 feet. Her passion and heart are on display every single second you watch her. She can create opportunities for herself and for her teammates, finishing and delivering with the best of them."

UNT remade its roster in the offseason by bringing on nine new players following a run the the final of the Women's Basketball Invitational. 

That class looks a little different now just a few days into practice. Freshman center Ashley Bowen has elected to leave the program and is considering transferring, Mitchell confirmed this week.

UNT will now turn to the rest of its newcomers and a core of returning veterans, including senior post player Anisha George, to help it build on a breakout season last fall.

The Mean Green advanced to the final of the Women's Basketball Invitational and finished 18-16 in 2018-19, their second straight winning season. George was UNT's second-leading scorer with an average of 10.2 points per game.

UNT will face TWU in an exhibition game on Nov. 3 before opening the season against Mid-American Christian on Nov. 7.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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