North Texas Daily

The catalyst for the women’s basketball team’s historic start

The catalyst for the women’s basketball team’s historic start

The catalyst for the women’s basketball team’s historic start
January 29
16:14 2021

The North Texas women’s basketball team (8-3, 5-1 Conference USA) are currently off to the best start in the history of their program after finishing a series against University of Texas at El Paso (8-5, 5-3 C-USA).

Despite finishing 12-19 last season overall and landing near the bottom of the standings, the team has turned it around this season and are currently in second place in the conference.

Head coach Jalie Mitchell attributes this turnaround to the experience they gained last year and what they learned from their losses.

“It was a lot of learning, a lot of pushing through adversity,” Mitchell said. “That’s what I think last year was for us, a learning experience. We had some highs, some lows, and some in-betweens but for sure a lot of growth.”

The most significant improvement they have made comes from the 3-point shot. Last year, the team shot 31.7 percent from three while only making 91 in 18 games played. However, this year they are currently shooting 36.9 percent with 73 3-pointers made in only 11 games played. Projected over 18 games North Texas is expected to make 119 3-pointers this season which would be 28 more than last season.

Mitchell attributes this jump to the addition of newcomers and the progress of existing veterans who have worked to improve their shooting.

“The people we have shooting threes this year are either new, or they have improved their percentage a great deal from last year,” Mitchell said.

One of these new players is redshirt sophomore guard Quincy Noble. The second-year player spent time at New Mexico State University her freshman year but then transferred to North Texas in 2019-2020 where she had to redshirt that season due to NCAA rules.

Noble is currently having a career year, averaging 18.4 points per game, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. According to Noble, the 3-pointer is something she has worked on to improve over the offseason, rather than a skill she has always specialized in. 

“I’ve always been a decent three-point shooter,” Noble said. “But I feel like it’s gotten much better over time. With time, a lot more shooting and practice with the coaching staff I’ve gotten much stronger on my 3-point shooting.”

In terms of veterans from last year, Mitchell believes that sophomore guards N’yah Boyd and Jazion Jackson are two players that have taken their experiences from the previous season and used it to improve.

“They have both improved tremendously,” Mitchell said. “Their experience last year has helped them a great deal and they have stepped up.”

Despite the hot start to the season, North Texas suffered their first conference loss of the season in their most recent game to the UTEP, where they shot under 30 percent from three in their lowest-scoring game of the season.

Mitchell sees the loss as another learning experience for the team and highlighted more about what they need as a team.

“We were taking some of the same shots, they just weren’t falling for us,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been so much better offensively that sometimes our focus is not where it needs to be defensively.”

Noble believes that the game was an eye-opener for North Texas and that they will be better because of it.

“We needed that wake-up call,” Noble said. “A lot of teams we’ve played before haven’t but they did. They capitalized on our weaknesses and took advantage of it.”

Even with the loss, North Texas still made history with their five straight wins and are second in the C-USA standings just behind Rice University. Redshirt Freshman Keira Neal says she feels great being a part of program history.

“It feels good being a part of a team that has done something that hasn’t happened in team history,” Neal said.

Being a former player, Mitchell says she finds humor in the fact that the team she is now coaching is off to a better start than she ever had in her playing days. However, she is also careful to stay calm and measured, as there are still a lot of games left to play.

“I’m really proud of the team, but the thing I stress with them is ‘don’t stop here,'” Mitchell said. “We have a long way to go, we have so much more to accomplish. I’m ecstatic about the start but let’s finish it off like so.”

Featured Image: Sophomore guard Jazion Jackson prepares to dribble past UTSA defender on Jan. 8, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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Caleb Yum

Caleb Yum

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