North Texas Daily

Women’s basketball set for first-round matchup of conference tournament

Women’s basketball set for first-round matchup of conference tournament

Junior guard Jaaucklyn Moore shoots a basket over a defender in a game against Louisiana Tech University on Feb. 16, 2023. Marco Barrera

Women’s basketball set for first-round matchup of conference tournament
March 08
12:00 2023

Women’s basketball is preparing to begin its journey in the Conference USA championship tournament.

North Texas (11-19, 8-12 Conference USA) enters as the No. 7 seed, lining them up with the No. 10 seed, the University of Alabama-Birmingham (13-16, 5-15). The Mean Green will play Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in their first round matchup at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.

“I think we lost more games than we should have this season,” junior guard Jordyn Carter said. “[The losses] definitely contribute to the chip on our shoulder, so we need to come in knowing it’s conference tournament time.”

North Texas was swept in both regular season matchups by an opposing C-USA team three times this season — one of those teams being the Blazers. 

The Mean Green lost their first matchup with Alabama-Birmingham at home this season by two points. The loss had four players score in double-digits as they held a 17-point advantage in the second quarter. After scoring nine points in the first quarter, the Blazers outscored North Texas 55-39 in the second half to come back and win. 

“It might’ve been us coming up off the gas,” Carter said. “I think we settled a few times when we shouldn’t have. We’ve talked about that and we know what we [need] to do.”

On Feb. 9, Alabama-Birmingham completed the season sweep in a 61-52 victory. North Texas struggled on the offensive end, only exceeding 12 points in a single quarter once in the contest while shooting 29.8 percent from the field in the game. The Mean Green led in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers managed to put together a 20-4 run.

“We need to be able to stop runs and go on runs [of our own],” sophomore guard Kendall McGruder said. “Even if our shots are missing, we’ve got to keep [shooting]. So we need to execute on offense and defense.”

North Texas was outscored in the paint in both contests with Alabama-Birmingham. McGruder said slowing them down in the paint has been a major focus in preparing for Wednesday’s game.

“Whenever they have their post [players] in — we have to make sure to help [each other], and we’ve got to be confident that we can,” McGruder said. 

Blazers freshman guard Denim DeShields has led the effort in both games, averaging 20 points on 48.27 percent shooting in addition to 6.5 assists in the two contests. Deshields averaged 12.8 points per game overall this season.

“I’m pretty sure [DeShields] will be my matchup,” Carter said. “I know she likes to get downhill and I let her do that too many times last time, so I’m going to try and limit her touches in the paint.”

Senior guard Quincy Noble leads the Mean Green this season with 17.1 points per game — a third-best in C-USA. However, she has struggled against the Blazers this season, shooting 36 percent on 10.5 points in the two games. McGruder has led the matchups on the North Texas side, averaging 12.5 points on 40 percent shooting to go along with 1.5 steals.

The Mean Green enter the opening round of the tournament coming off of a two-game losing skid, dropping games to No. 1 Middle Tennessee State University (25-4, 18-2) and No. 2 Western Kentucky University (17-12, 14-6).

“It helps kids gain confidence,” associate head coach Alex Furr said. “Coaches gain trust and confidence in individuals stepping up at the right time. These games have presented some tough pieces that we’ve been searching for all year, so it’s been good for us.”

North Texas received a bye in last season’s tournament but fell in the semifinals to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. McGruder believes the Blazers’ season sweep has inspired the Mean Green to win some games this time around.

“I think [the losses] motivate us,” McGruder said. “I think we’ve always been an underdog, but we know we can prove people wrong and make some upsets. We’re not trying to go home. We want to keep playing. We’re focused on [Alabama-Birmingham], and I think we’re ready for that.”

Featured Image Junior guard Jaaucklyn Moore shoots a basket over a defender in a game against Louisiana Tech University on Feb. 16, 2023. Marco Barrera

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Joshua Paveglio

Joshua Paveglio

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