DALLAS (SMU) -Keena Mays scored six points in the last 1:11, and SMU forced Houston into four turnovers in the final 45 seconds to edge out the Cougars 58-54 in Moody Coliseum Thursday night. With the win, the Mustangs improved to 15-4 overall, 6-0 in Conference USA, and stretch the win streak to seven games, tying the fifth longest streak in school history.
Trailing by three, 54-51, with less than two minutes in the game, Mays drove for a bucket to cut the deficit to one, then stole the ball and went to the free throw line, sinking both shots to give the Mustangs a 55-54 lead with 45 seconds left. Gabrielle Wilkins stole the ball from the Cougars 11 seconds later, and Farrin Bell made a free throw to put SMU up two. After Alecia Smith was called for a carry, Mays hit the second of two free throws, pushing the lead to three with 23 seconds left. Mays then forced Smith into an open-court five-second violation, erasing Houston's chance to tie the game.
Mays finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals, and Alisha Filmore led the Mustangs with 14 points and had six steals. Akil Simpson added 11 points and nine rebounds. Te'onna Campbell led Houston with 16 points before fouling out.
SMU scored the first eight points of the second half, extending the halftime lead to 10 and appeared to be headed for another second-half explosion, but the Cougars (9-10, 2-4 C-USA) answered with 10-0 run of their own to tie the game 31-31 with 13:44 left. Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the game.
The first half was a defensive struggle in which both teams managed just nine field goals in an identical 27 attempts, but the Mustangs hit two 3-pointers and held Houston scoreless from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes for a two-point lead at the break, 23-21. Mays opened the scoring with a 3 for the game's first points, but Houston scored the next four and held the lead until the 2:12 mark.
Simpson made a layup and converted the and-one opportunity to give SMU a 21-19 lead, its first since less than two minutes into the game. Wilkins came out of a scrum with the ball to score the last bucket of the half with 25 second left, giving SMU the advantage.
The Mustangs go to El Paso, Texas to take on UTEP Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. The Miners are a game behind SMU in the conference standings with a 5-1 record, 17-2 overall.