North Texas Hits Free Throws to Turn Back Lady Raiders 74-72

January 19, 2002 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Trailing for most of the half, Middle Tennessee (9-9, 2-4 SBC) managed to tie the game with 30 seconds left in the game, but fell to North Texas (11-6, 5-2 SBC) 74-72 after Nicole Thomas hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds left to play Saturday in Murphy Center.

Freshman Patrice Holmes stole the ball with 40 seconds left to play and dished in the lay-up from fellow freshman Tiffany Fisher to tie the game at 72. North Texas held the ball to let the clock move down to the waning seconds of the game, but got a chance to pull ahead when a foul was called on Holmes with six seconds left.

After Thomas drained both free throws to put the North Texas Lady Eagles up by two, the Lady Raiders had a chance for one last desperation shot. Holmes had the ball and took a shot outside the three-point line, but the shot hit the rim and bounced off.

Senior Jamie Thomatis led all scorers as she had a double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds. It is the 13th time she has recorded a double-double in her career and a season high in rebounds.

Two other Lady Raiders recorded double figure scoring in the game as Holmes had 14 and sophomore Jennifer Justice had 10. Senior Joanne Aluka saw minutes for the first time since January 10, when she was re-injured her leg at North Texas, and logged in 13 minutes and scored five points.

Middle Tennessee begins a two game Sun Belt Conference road swing on Thursday January 24 when the Lady Raiders travel to Jonesboro, Arkansas to take on Arkansas State at 7:05 p.m.

ALUKA BACK: For the first time since the New Mexico State game on Jan. 10, senior Joanne Aluka was back on the court for the Lady Raiders. Aluka, who missed the past two games due to a stress fracture in her left leg, finished with five points and six rebounds in 13 minutes.

MCCLURE PASSES CHASTAIN: With three steals tonight against North Texas, senior Jessica McClure surpassed Kelly Chastain for fifth place on the all-time steals list. McClure now has 202 career steals and stands only four shy from taking over fourth place from Jennifer McFall.

No. 13 FOR JAMIE: Senior Jamie Thomatis recorded her 13th career double-double tonight when she tallied a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds. Thomatis, who topped the 20-point mark for the seventh time this season, also had three steals. Thomatis also set her career highs in free throws made (15) and attempted (18).

THIS -N' THAT: Freshman Patrice Holmes equaled her career best with three steals - With a three-pointer tonight against UNT, Paula Pentilla tied Christy Scruggs for eighth place on the all-time made list with 70 treys - With six rebounds tonight, Joanne Aluka tied Robin Hendrix for 11th place on the all-time list. Aluka now has 620 career caroms - Jennifer Justice's three blocks tonight was her most since rejecting four against Houston on Dec. 20 - The Lady Raiders only had eight assists tonight on 22 field goals - The Lady Raiders' shooting percentage of 34.9 tonight against UNT was the team's second worst effort of the year (.290 vs Kansas State) - Six of MT's nine losses have been by five points or less and three have been by two points or less.

MT Head Coach Stephany Smith: "We are still young and still improving. We get better at different aspects of the game every day. One of the things that's frustrating with me is, the mistakes our freshman make and I understand that freshmen are going to make mistakes. I am not referring to the foul at the end or Holmes missing on the ball, absolutely not referring to that. I am just trying to help them get into the right position of where they need to be, offensively and defensively."

"I am ready for Paula (Penttila) and Jessica (McClure) to carry more of the load in running the team and dictating some of the action on the floor as two veteran point guards should be able to do."

"You could see the enthusiasm and excitement, and I could tell that the crowd was getting involved. I don't know exactly possession by possession how that vanished so quickly. I know that turnovers were involved. Also, they scored in the half court set of their offense and we didn't score on our end. Obviously, that depletes some of the lead."

Jaime Thomatis: "We had a young lineup in at the beginning. Over time they will learn that you have to play safe. Hopefully the offenses that we are running will come together by tournament time."

Patrice Holmes: "This was a heartbreaking loss. We were in it from the jump, and we just let it slip away."

UNT Head Coach Slinker: "We knew coming into the game that Middle Tennessee was good team. They did a nice job getting to the free throw line. We really knew we had to watch Thomatis and try to control her, which I don't think we did a great job of doing. She was able to get to the free throw line all night. We also knew we had to watch guard penetration because they have such quick guards. I thought we did that fairly well."

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