North Texas women’s basketball (8-2, 5-0 Conference USA) expanded on a program-record moving to 5-0 in conference play after a 67-59 road win over UTEP (5-5, 2-3 C-USA) Friday evening. Sophomore guards N’Yah Boyd and Quincy Noble led the Mean Green to victory with 17 points apiece.
The Mean Green shot 0.6 percent more at 41.7 percent to the Lady Miners’ 41.1 percent and shot 31.3 percent (5-of-16 attempts) in 3-point attempts, yet held UTEP to 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) in 3-point shooting.
Through the first five games of conference play, North Texas joins Rice (9-1, 5-0 C-USA) and Middle Tennessee (7-3, 5-0 C-USA) as the three undefeated teams in Conference USA.
“I was really pleased with how we handled the last three to four minutes,” Head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “We managed the time well and weren’t rushed. That’s just maturity that comes with experience.
North Texas came into Friday’s matchup with a 4-0 conference record for the first time in program history after a sweeping UAB and UTSA in the first two conference series’. UTEP swept Southern Mississippi in the opening conference series and was swept by Rice in the previous weekend’s series, hoping to expand from a .500 record in conference play.
The first half of action resulted in a neck-to-neck margin as North Texas hopped out to a 16-15 lead in the first quarter and led at halftime by a score of 34-30.
Boyd and Noble led the Mean Green offense in the first quarter each with five points, scoring 10 of the team’s 16 points including a 3-pointer by Noble.
With a 29-27 lead with 2:51 remaining, Noble scored the final six points for North Texas to pad on a two-point lead courtesy of four free throws made and a buzzer-beating layup.
UTEP responded early in the second half on a 9-to-4 run where both teams swapped one-point leads. Lady Miners’ sophomore guard Katia Gallegos opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, and North Texas minimized the damage after freshman forward Elina Arike put UTEP up 41-40 with 4:38 in the third quarter.
North Texas immediately went on a 10-to-2 run leading 50-43 beginning with sophomore forward Destinee McDowell making a layup, including 3-pointers by Noble and freshman guard Keira Neal.
The Lady Miners flipped the script towards the end of the third quarter and early through the fourth quarter as UTEP went on an 8-to-0 run, taking a one-point lead once again.
Noble gave North Texas the lead on a 3-pointer making it a 53-51 contest, where North Texas pulled away with the win after controlling the ball and outscoring the Lady Miners 14-to-8 throughout the final quarter.
Boyd and Noble led the offense in points scored in the game for North Texas. Boyd also led North Texas in assists with four and eight rebounds.
Gallegos led UTEP in scoring with 13 points and assists with seven, including senior forward Michelle Pruitt leading the Lady Miners with eight rebounds.
“We played through adversity and played hard,” Boyd said. “The coaches gave us the game plan and we used that.”
The two teams will square up again Saturday at 5 p.m. to finalize the two guaranteed matchups in conference play.
“As long as we work hard, we can beat anybody,” Mitchell said. “UTEP is a really good team and the challenge is, ‘Can we do it again tomorrow?’”
Featured Image: Redshirt sophomore guard Quincy Noble shoots over UTSA defender on Jan. 9, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas