One of the last things Winthrop coach Bud Childers told his team just before the Lady Eagles left the locker room for the second half of the adidas Classic was to start with the same intensity and fire that they had displayed in the first 20 minutes.
When North Texas hit a pair of baskets to cut Winthrop's five-point lead to one, Childers was on his feet calling for a time out.
"We talked about coming out and being as aggressive as we were in the first half," Childers said. "We came out sluggish on the defensive end. They got to the basket twice on us."
The Lady Eagles got the message and stormed back to a 77-56 victory over the Mean Green, sparked a 46-30 scoring margin in the second half and a dominating defense that took North Texas completely out of its inside game.
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"I thought our defense was outstanding," Childers said. "We out-rebounded them by five, we held them to 29 percent shooting and really contested their shots.
"That's a good basketball team that's going to win a lot of games. They may be the most athletic team we'll play all season."
Winthrop squares off against the Navy, a 63-52 loser to Rice this afternoon at 3. The Mean Green takes on the Owls at 1.
Tiffany Rodd led four Lady Eagles in double figures with 17, while Jessica Fansler add 14 on 5-of-5 shooting. Ashley Haugtvedt added 11. Junior college transfer Jessica Walker tallied 10.
Ashley Fann, a preseason Big South Conference selection, scored nine points and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds.
North Texas State coach Tina Sinkler had nothing but praise, especially for the play of Winthrop's inside players.
"They took away our inside game and that's were I felt our strength would be," North Texas coach Tina Sinkler said. "Inside is where we have our leadership and I thought they would play better than they did. But give Winthrop credit, they had a great game plan and they were well prepared."
Jo Hall led the Mean Green with 15.
• RICE 63, NAVY 52 -- Tiffany Loggins scored 22 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to pace the Lady Owls in the season opener for both teams.
Cassie Consedine had 12 points for the Midshipmen, who lost despite having a better shooting percentage and seven more rebounds.
• CLEMSON 72, MAINE 5 -- In Clemson, Morganne Campbell and Whitney Hood had 13 points each to lead Clemson.
The Tigers also got 11 points from Sthefany Thomas, and Lele Hardy added 10 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Hardy also had 8 steals and one blocked shot.
Tanna Ross led all scorers with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Black Bears. Maine also got 13 points and eight rebounds from Kris Younan and 10 points from Brittany Boser, who grabbed 10 rebounds.
• SOUTH CAROLINA 93, ST. FRANCIS 33 -- In Columbia, Demetress Adams had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead South Carolina.
Adams, a 6-foot-4 junior, hit 7 of 11 shots from the floor. She also missed only one of her eight foul shots.
South Carolina broke out on top early, leading 47-15 at the half. St. Francis never got back in it.
The Gamecocks had five players in double figures. Brionna Dickerson had 17, Jordan Jones 15, Samone Kennedy 13 and Lakesha Tolliver 10.