North Texas coach Jalie Mitchell spent most of the last few days pointing out to her team all the little mistakes that proved costly in a pair of losses last week in Florida.
The Mean Green are hoping the lessons they learned will help them bounce back when they open a two-game homestand on Thursday with a 7 p.m. game against Southern Miss.
UNT (7-9, 1-3 Conference USA) fell toward the bottom of the league’s women’s basketball standings when it dropped games at Florida International and Florida Atlantic. UNT missed two shots in the final six seconds of a 58-56 loss to FIU and then missed out on multiple opportunities to close out FAU before falling 84-78 in double overtime.
“We didn’t do the things that were necessary down the stretch,” Mitchell said. “We have to make sure we understand that details matter. It’s the difference between being 1-3 and 3-1.”
UNT spent time working on end-of-game situations in practice this week and is hoping to be better prepared heading into its game against Southern Miss (10-4, 2-1).
The Lady Eagles won two of their first three games in conference play at home behind Shonte Hailes. The senior guard is averaging 17.1 points per game.
“They are physical and get after you defensively,” Mitchell said. “They don’t press for 40 minutes like they did last year, but they still press. They have been in every game and have returners who are playing well.”
UNT has been dealing with a host of injuries and off-court issues and will be shorthanded again when it faces the Lady Eagles.
Mitchell said earlier in the week that freshman forward Destinee McDowell is out indefinitely due to injury.
Key post player Anisha George and forward Madison Townley also missed time before returning during the Mean Green’s trip to Florida last week.
George leads UNT with an average of 12.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. The Mean Green also got big performances from some of their young players during their trip to Florida.
Freshman Randi Thompson scored a career high 25 points in UNT’s loss to FAU.
That performance just wasn’t enough to lift UNT to a win on a day it went 22-of-38 from the free-throw line.
Converting from the free-throw line is one of the little things UNT worked on this week.
The Mean Green are hoping all that work will help them rebound after seeing a pair of winnable games slip away last week.
Men’s basketball: UNT wary of Southern Miss despite record
UNT has the opportunity to break a long losing streak when it faces Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
The Mean Green haven’t beaten the Bulldogs in Ruston since 1952.
UNT hasn’t thought much about that chance, though, not with a game at Southern Miss looming on Thursday. The Golden Eagles (4-13) are struggling and have lost their first four games in C-USA play.
UNT is determined to maintain focus and avoid a letdown.
“We respect their strength of schedule,” UNT coach Grant McCasland said. “It’s tougher than ours.
“They play hard and give themselves a chance to win every game.”
Southern Miss has lost to Gonzaga, Texas Tech, Alabama and Iowa State.
UNT (9-8, 3-1) will enter its game against the Golden Eagles having won three straight since opening conference play with a loss to Western Kentucky.
The Mean Green beat Florida Atlantic and Florida International in a two-game homestand last week.
“It’s important for us to carry the momentum over,” UNT guard Javion Hamlet said. “We have a chance to go plus-three [three games over .500] in conference on Thursday night. We are trying to get that win on the road.”
Simmons on mend after fall
Junior forward Zachary Simmons has been battling lingering soreness following a fall in UNT’s loss to WKU on Jan. 2.
Simmons has been limited in practice and has seen his playing time decrease over the Mean Green’s last few games. He played just 19 minutes in a win over Marshall and 14 against FAU, when he was also in foul trouble.
“It’s nothing that is going to keep him from playing,” McCasland said. “We are trying to manage it.”
Tennis UNT to open dual match season
The UNT women’s tennis team will open its dual match season on Friday when it hosts Stephen F. Austin at 2 p.m.
The Mean Green competed in Metroplex Mania, a multi-day tournament, last week at SMU. UNT won five doubles matches and 10 singles matches in the event.
“We could not have asked for a better week of preseason training,” UNT coach Sujay Lama said in a statement. “We have a nice little momentum as we look forward to the start of our dual match season this coming week.”