DENTON — The big three of Kelsey Criner, Candice Adams and Acheil Tac combined for 44 points, but it was not enough, as North Texas began its final homestand with a 78-67 loss to Louisiana Tech on Thursday night at the Super Pit.
The Lady Techsters (14-12, 9-6 Conference USA) erased a three-point halftime deficit with a 27-point third quarter, as they outscored the Mean Green 9-16, 4-11 C-USA) by a score of 44-30 in the second half.
North Texas held a decided advantage at the free-throw line, where they were 25-of-32 for the game, but they were unable to overcome 21 turnovers, which Louisiana Tech turned into 25 points. The Lady Techsters also held a decided advantage in made shots with 30 made field goals, compared to 19 for the Mean Green.
“We had some careless turnovers,” head coach Jalie Mitchell said. “The third quarter was the biggest difference in the game. We did not look like we came out of the locker room. You cannot start a half like that against a quality team. They do a good job of getting the ball where it’s supposed to go, finishing at the basket and giving themselves second-chance opportunities. You can’t let up.”
Criner led North Texas with 18 points and eight assists, scoring 15 of her 18 points in the first half. Adams and Tac, as well as Terra Ellison added 13 points each. The rest of the team combined for just 10 points.
Four different players scored in double figures for Louisiana Tech, led by senior guard Brooke Pumroy who led all scorers with 21 points, setting a season high and tying a career high in the process. She was 6-of-11 from the floor, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range, accounting for all five of the team’s five 3-pointers in the game.
“She did a good job of stepping up,” said Mitchell of Pumroy. “She noticed that their star player (Brandi Wingate) was not having her usual night and she took it upon herself to score points for her team.”
Louisiana Tech opened the game on a 7-0 run and controlled much of the early action, before Brandi Wingate, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, went to the bench with two early fouls. North Texas took advantage and went on a 9-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 16-13 on the way to a 22-17 lead after the first quarter.
North Texas maintained its advantage through halftime, taking a 48-43 lead into the locker room. The Mean Green got to the free-throw line early and often, going 13-of-16 in the first half, led by junior guard Kelsey Criner, who was 6-of-6 from the line.
The key stretch of the game came in the third quarter, during which Louisiana Tech went on a 10-0 run, turning a 43-42 deficit into a 52-43 lead over a 4:07 stretch midway through the third quarter. The run proved decisive, as North Texas would not lead again the rest of the way.
North Texas pulled to within five at 61-56 on a 3-pointer by Adams with 9:23 left in the game, but that was as close as the Mean Green would get in the fourth quarter. Louisiana Tech led by as many as 12 points in the final 10 minutes on the way to the 78-67 final.
• The trio of Adams, Criner and Tac each scored in double figures for the 16th time this season
• Terra Ellison scored in double figures for the first time since scoring 10 points against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 6
• With eight assists, Kelsey Criner now has 126 assists for the season, the sixth-most in a single season in school history
• Criner finished two assists shy of her second career double-double
• Criner now has 17 games with five or more assists
• With three made 3-pointers, Candice Adams now has 42 for the season and 92 for her career, the sixth-most in school history
• North Texas is now 6-6 when leading at the half
North Texas concludes its 2015-16 home slate with Senior Day on Saturday. The Mean Green play host to Southern Miss at 2 p.m. CT from the Super Pit. They will be honoring their trio of seniors in Teadra Jones, Acheil Tac andKasiney Williams.