Tulsa's second half shooting was too much for North Texas as the Hurricane cruised to a 63-43 victory against the Mean Green in front of 677 fans Saturday afternoon at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Tulsa's victory snapped a six-game losing streak as the Hurricane improved to 11-13 overall and 5-8 in Conference USA action, and North Texas dropped to 11-15 overall and 5-8 in league play.
Tulsa's Kelsee Grovey led all scorers with 16 points and added six steals, while Mariah Turner had 13 points and 5 rebounds for the Hurricane. North Texas' Alexis Hyder scored 12 points to lead the Mean Green.
Tulsa used a different lineup to start the game than the previous four contests with Jasmine Vasquez, Rickae Jinks, Liesl Spoerl, Erika Lane and Grovey.
"We needed new energy today and that was the purpose of having a new lineup. Look back at the dismal start we had in last week's LA Tech game, when we put five new players in they played hard and caught us up," said Tulsa Head Coach Matilda Mossman. "It makes a difference when you play with energy. When your attitude is good and you bring energy every day, you're going to have a chance."
That new lineup didn't convert many shots in the first half for the Hurricane, but kept the game close for a resurgent Hurricane team in the second half.
"The energy of our young players propelled us and was motivation for us on defense," said Mossman. "Who would think that you could shoot 16-percent in a half and go in at halftime ahead. We've had several games this year when we've scored in the 80's or in the 70's and lost. Tonight, we only score 63 and only shoot 35-percent and we win and win convincingly. I'll take that defensive performance any day."
Unlike the first half when the Hurricane shot just 16-percent, Tulsa shot 56-percent from the field in the final 20 minutes and out-scored UNT 43-25 for the half. The second half start for Tulsa was quite the opposite of the first half as the Hurricane scored 20 points in the first 10 minutes, compared to scoring just 20 points in the entire first half.
North Texas scored the first three points of the second half to take a 21-20 lead and also held a 24-23 lead before Grovey's three-pointer at the 16:23 mark put Tulsa ahead by two points at 26-24. Tulsa would never trail again, taking its first double-digit lead with 12:23 remaining in the first half on a three-pointer by Lane. The Hurricane scored its 20th point of the half on a Kadan Brady three-pointer to make the score 40-27 at the 10:06 mark.
The Mean Green cut the Tulsa lead to eight points, 40-32, at the 8:46 mark, but the Hurricane continued to scorch the nets and built a 19-point lead at 53-34 after a 13-2 run with 5:29 left on the game clock. Turner's layup with 0:55 remaining was the final basket of the game, giving the home team a 63-43 win.
Tulsa jumped out to any early 5-0 lead to start the contest, but the Mean Green scored eight of the next nine points to take an 8-6 lead at the 13:37 mark. The two teams combined for just 24 points between them over the final 13 minutes of the first half.
Tulsa converted only 5-of-30 shots for just 16-percent in the first 20 minutes, while North Texas knocked down only 33-percent of its field goals. Tulsa connected on 7-of-11 from the free throw line to maintain a small cushion over the Mean Green in the first half.
Grovey's three-pointer at the 3:00 mark broke a 15-15 tie as the Hurricane held on for a 20-18 halftime lead. In the first half, North Texas scored 12 points in the paint to Tulsa's four points, but Tulsa had an 8-2 advantage on points off turnovers.