North Texas Daily

Women’s basketball eyes run at conference title after late-season surge

Women’s basketball eyes run at conference title after late-season surge

Women’s basketball eyes run at conference title after late-season surge
March 10
09:00 2022

After beating the University of Texas-El Paso in its final game of the season Saturday, women’s basketball cemented its position as the No. 2 seed in Conference USA’s West Division.

Holding a top-two seed means the team receives a double-bye and will not play until Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Two of the Mean Green’s three possible opponents are the University of Texas-San Antonio and Texas-El Paso, which North Texas (16-11, 10-7 C-USA) beat last week. The third potential opponent is Old Dominion University which beat the Mean Green 67-57 on Jan. 27 and knocked the team out of the playoff bracket last season.

“We just saw [Texas-El Paso and Texas-San Antonio], so we’re pretty comfortable with what they do and what we need to do to beat them,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “We did take this opportunity these last couple of days to get familiar again with [Old Dominion] and see what maybe has changed for them since we last played. So that is just our focus right now to prepare for whoever we might see on Thursday.”

When the Mean Green lost to the Monarchs earlier in the season, they had an overall record of 7-7 and were coming off back-to-back losses. With its win over Texas-El Paso, North Texas achieved double-digit conference wins for the second consecutive season.

“We have been using the word consistency for weeks,” Mitchell said. “When you are consistent, not just game-by-game but year-by-year, that is when it starts to happen and becomes the expectation. I love it for those returners having something to live up to.”

The team began the season winning six of its first eight games led by junior guard Quincy Noble, the team’s leading scorer and pre-season Conference USA Co-Player of the Year. The Mean Green then lost five of seven games in January to find themselves at 8-9 overall and 2-5 against C-USA opponents. North Texas ended the season winning eight of its last 10 games, all against conference opponents.

Graduate forward Madison Townley said the team found new ways to win by playing together and the late-season winning gives them confidence going into the tournament.

“Everybody on our team contributes in some type of way, whether it’s points, getting stops, rebounds or assists,” Townley said. “Everybody has a stat on that score sheet. I think it took some time for us to find how we need to play and how we should show up and play.”

Noble ended the regular season averaging the most points on the team at 14.5 points per game and the most minutes at 32.7 minutes per game, scoring a season-high 30 points against the University of Southern Mississippi. However, junior guard Jazion Jackson and graduate guard Aly Gamez also carried the scoring load in wins against the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Texas-El Paso during the later part of the season.

“Obviously we know [Noble is] going to score and do whatever she needs to do,” Jackson said. “Knowing that we have other guards and other forwards that can do the same thing as well is always going to be good.”

Going into last year’s conference tournament as a No. 3-seed, the Mean Green fell to Old Dominion in their first game. They have lost the last four matchups with Old Dominion and are 3-7 in the sides’ last 10 meetings. North Texas has fallen in its first tournament game each of the last two seasons, last winning an opening game there in the 2018-19 season.

“I’m more confident than I’ve ever been,” Jackson said. “We know what we need to do, new players [and] old players we already know what we need to prove in order to win it all.”

Featured Image: Amber Dixon takes the ball down the court on Feb. 10, 2022. Photo by Kristian Freeman

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Paul Witwer

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