Women’s Basketball: FAU uses strong second half to defeat North Texas, snaps its seven-game losing streak

Five players reach double digits in the Owls first home win since Jan. 23


Junior Melinda Myers scored 10 points in the Owls loss at Middle Tennessee. Photo by Mohammed F. Emran

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic saved its best basketball for the second half of Saturday’s game — both defensively and offensively — to defeat North Texas 71-61 and snap its seven-game losing streak.

FAU (12-14, 4-11 Conference USA) shot 45 percent from the field in the second half, including making five 3-pointers while holding North Texas (9-15, 4-10 Conference USA) to only 28 percent in the second half.

After the Owls committed seven turnovers in the first half, they were able to protect the ball better in the second, only giving away possession five times.

“We made a lot of unforced errors [in the first half],” said head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay. “We put our defense in a tough situation when we can’t hang on to possession.”

North Texas jumped out to an early 14-6 first quarter lead over FAU, making 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-4 from the three-point line. Although the Owls got within as many as five points, FAU committed four turnovers and shot 41 percent, while the Mean Green extended its lead to nine after the first quarter.

FAU had a much better second quarter, shooting 9-for-14 from the field and limiting North Texas to only 10 points in the period, including holding them to only 29 percent shooting. The Owls also held the Mean Green scoreless for almost four minutes at the end of second quarter, using a 12-4 run to head to the locker room with a one-point lead, 38-37.

Senior Acheil Tac scored 14 points in the first half and was a problem for the Owls on the offensive board, collecting five offensive rebounds. She finished the game with 25 points and 14 rebounds, her ninth double-double of the season.

“She’s an unbelievable athlete,” said coach Lewis-Jay of Tac’s performance after the game. “Nobody could out-jump her in our team so we had to rebound by committee.”

Although both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the third quarter, FAU used a 12-2 scoring run halfway through to pull away from North Texas, extending its one-point halftime lead to seven. The Owls shot 37 percent in the third quarter while holding the Mean Green to only 25 percent shooting from the field.

FAU was able to close North Texas in the fourth quarter by shooting 54 percent from the field and holding North Texas to 33 percent, including allowing just one 3-pointer in the final period of the game.

Seniors Alli Gorrell and Morgan Robinson celebrated their final home games of their FAU careers by contributing to the win. Gorrell finished with 16 points, six rebounds and nine assists while Robinson finished with four points and three assists.

“I can’t thank the coaching staff here enough for the amount of love and support that they give each and every player,” said Gorrell after the game. “It’s been an amazing opportunity.”

Robinson, who is viewed by coach Lewis-Jay as a “mother figure” to the team, has used leadership skills to make her impact on the Owls.

Guards Morgan Robinson (red shirt) and Ali Gorrell (23) are joined by teammates, coaches and family during the post-game celebration for the pair of seniors. Brendan Feeney | Sports Editor
Guards Morgan Robinson (red shirt) and Ali Gorrell (23) are joined by teammates, coaches and family during the post-game celebration for the pair of seniors. Brendan Feeney | Sports Editor

“I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here. It’s just great to just be there for teammates and help them get better,” Robinson said.

FAU will travel to Miami for its lone game next week to face well-known rival, Florida International University, next Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.