EL PASO, Texas (SMU) - Keena Mays scored 26 points and Alisha Filmore finished with 21 to lead SMU to an 82-73 win at UTEP, which received votes in the top 25 polls each of the last six weeks, in the Don Haskins Center Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Mustangs remained perfect in Conference USA, improving to 7-0, 16-4 overall, and stretched the win streak to eight games, matching the second-longest streak in school history.
The Mustangs pushed their halftime lead to as many as 18 points in the second half, 68-50 with 8:26 left, but UTEP (17-3, 5-2) didn't back out of the fight. The Miners cut the lead to seven, 70-63 with 5:46 left in the game, out-scoring the Mustangs 13-2 over the stretch. The lead was eight with 2:17 left, but the Mustangs made all six of their free throw attempts down the stretch to hold on for the win.
With SMU up four to start the second half, Kayla Thornton hit a 3 to pull UTEP to within one, 38-37. The Mustangs scored seven of the next eight points and six minutes into the final 20 minutes, Mays hit a jumper to give SMU the first double-digit lead of the game, 54-44 with 14:16 to play. After a Thornton layup, Filmore hit a 3 with 13:09 on the clock, and UTEP didn't get within single digits again until the 6:27 mark.
The first 20 minutes were full of physical and aggressive play by both teams from the opening tip. SMU built three different five-point leads, and held the advantage for most of the half, but the Miners stayed right with the league leader, despite starting point guard Kelli Willingham playing just three minutes with early foul trouble. However, the Mustangs made five 3-pointers and out-scored UTEP 9-3 at the free throw line to take a 38-34 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
Mays was 9-of-18 in the game, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc for 26 points with seven assists, five steals and four rebounds. Filmore was 5-for-11, 3-of-5 from 3-point range, scoring 21 points with four rebounds and three steals, and Akil Simpson scored 16 points with six rebounds and three steals.
The Mustangs shot 45.0 percent, 27 of 60, and made 9-of-17 from 3-point range, 52.9 percent, eclipsing 80 points for the second time this season. UTEP finished the game 28-of-66 from the floor, 42.4 percent, and went 8-for-20 from behind the arc, 40.0 percent.
SMU returns to Moody Coliseum to host UAB Thursday at 7 p.m. The Blazers (13-7, 4-3 C-USA are the league's top defensive team, holding opponents to 53.4 points per game. For tickets, call 214-SMU-GAME or visit SMUMustangs.com.