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Mitchell cites upperclassmen leadership in women’s basketball’s comeback win over IUPUI

Mitchell cites upperclassmen leadership in women’s basketball’s comeback win over IUPUI

Junior guard Kelsey Criner lays it up in Saturday’s win over IUPUI, pushing the Mean Green women to a 3-4 record. Matthew Brown | Senior Staff Photographer

Mitchell cites upperclassmen leadership in women’s basketball’s comeback win over IUPUI
December 05
18:59 2015

Clay Massey | Staff Writer

@Clay_FC

When the North Texas women’s basketball team trailed by 20 points with 6:42 to play in the third quarter, a North Texas comeback seemed improbable

But junior Candice Adams and senior Kelsey Criner pushed their team to re-write that narrative.

“I think it’s huge for us just because to comeback from down 20, you have to have something about you,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “There was a lot of excitement on the bench, so I thought everybody played a big part in that comeback victory.

The guard duo took control of the game down the stretch, leading to Adams scoring a career high 18 points, just hours after exiting a game the night before in the fourth quarter. Criner hit easily the biggest shot of the game with 45.9 seconds to play when she received an Adams pass in the left corner.

Her shot from beyond the arc was nothing but net, giving the Mean Green a 68-67 lead it would not relinquish.

“[Adams] drove my way, my man committed to her and she just kicked out to me,” Criner said of the game-winner. “I just let it go.”

Criner made a similar shot, also assisted by Adams, late in North Texas’ 60-57 win over Southern Methodist University. Criner finished with 10 points in 17 minutes against Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, most of which came in the second half after being benched by Mitchell and making her first appearance early in the second quarter.

Adams took the game over in the second half, scoring 12 points in the half to fuel her team’s comeback. The junior guard knew what her team needed as the clock got closer to hitting zero and her team trailing by a significant margin.

Senior forward Acheil Tac (#23) led the Eagles in rebounds and also scored 10 points in Saturday’s come-from-behind win against IUPUI. Matthew Brown | Senior Staff Photographer

Senior forward Acheil Tac (#23) led the Eagles in rebounds and also scored 10 points in Saturday’s come-from-behind win against IUPUI. Matthew Brown | Senior Staff Photographer

“My team needs me,” Adams said. “Whether it’s trying to hurry-up and recover or whatever, my team needs me. I just try to get back on the court and give them what I can.”

Mitchell noted that her squad struggled with leadership when she signed on with North Texas in the spring, but she felt the win over IUPUI was a big step forward.

“Whether it was mentally trying to get everybody up and excited or celebrating a big shot or stop, I think everybody was involved,” Mitchell said. “For our team, I think we took a step forward, and that’s what we want to keep doing – going forward, not staying the same or going backwards.”

Mitchell also said her team has now found its leaders in upperclassmen such as Adams and Criner, who have come up big in each of the team’s three wins this season.

With the upperclassmen stepping up, Mitchell said she has seen her younger players feed off of the play and emotion of their elders.

“I thought when I got here and first got started in our team meetings, I thought we lacked leadership for a lot of different reasons,” Mitchell said. “Some people were new, some people weren’t used to it, some people hadn’t been in it or knew what it felt like. We’re learning. We’re learning how to become that, and how to sustain that and how to listen and follow. We’re learning a lot as a team.”

Featured Image: Junior guard Kelsey Criner lays it up in Saturday’s win over IUPUI, pushing the Mean Green women to a 3-4 record. Matthew Brown | Senior Staff Photographer

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