HONOLULU — After opening up play in the Rainbow Wahine Showdown on Friday with a win over host Hawaii, the Mean Green faced a stiffer challenge on Saturday with a Lone Star showdown against Texas, and UNT fought tooth and nail before falling just short in a 63-57 loss.
The Mean Green (3-4, 0-0 C-USA) went toe-to-toe with the Longhorns (4-3, 0-0 Big 12) for much of the first half, and held a 24-23 lead over Texas with just less than six minutes to play in the half before the Longhorns went on a 14-0 run to close the second quarter and take a 37-24 lead to the break.
Then, UNT had its best shooting period of the game in the third, shooting 38.5%, while holding Texas to 3-for-13 from the field in that stanza, and the Mean Green began to claw back.
“I’m proud of our team and how we fought,” coach Jalie Mitchell said. “It was definitely a winnable game for us and something that we can learn from and grow from, but nonetheless, we fought.”
The Mean Green had perhaps their most well-rounded offensive game of the season, as four players scored in double figures, led by freshman guard Randi Thompson’s 15 points off the bench on 5-of-9 shooting. Senior post Anisha George had 11 points and seven rebounds to go with two steals and three blocked shots. Freshmen Destinee McDowell and Jazion Jackson added 11 and 10 points, respectively, to go with eight and six rebounds, respectively. Redshirt junior forward Madison Townley scored six points and pulled down nine boards, as UNT out rebounded Texas 42-38.
In a game of runs, the game swung for the final time with 4:52 left to play when double technical fouls were called on George and Texas’ Charli Collier. Texas then went on a 6-0 run.
“I’m proud of our fight,” Mitchell said. “On that run, we just needed to do a lot of things better. We just let some things bother us that shouldn’t have, and it showed up in the game, but we came out of halftime ready to fight the right way. The tech was a momentum swing. They went on a 6-0 on that point, which was big. It’s a game of runs and we needed to eliminate those.”
UNT had one last chance after a Thompson jumper pulled the Mean Green within three points at 60-57, and then McDowell blocked a shot at the other end to give the Mean Green the ball coming out of a timeout with 40 seconds left.
Thompson was then called for a charge, and Texas made three free throws down the stretch to hold on for the victory.
“That last five minutes, we both went back and forth with no buckets,” Mitchell said. “We were set on getting stops and getting baskets. We went about it the right way we just couldn’t get them to fall on the offensive end when we needed them to.”
North Texas will wrap up play in Hawai’i on Sunday at 4 p.m., with a game against No. 12 NC State.