Feb. 22, 2014
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (SMU) - Led by 24 points from Keena Mays and 20 from Akil Simpson, the SMU Mustangs held off a late-charging Memphis Tigers squad to win 78-74 at the FedEx Forum on Saturday afternoon. Simpson moved into 15th all-time at SMU in scoring with her performance.
SMU improved to 16-10 (7-8 The American) with the win and also clinched a first round bye in the conference tournament. Memphis dropped to 11-16 (4-11) with the defeat.
SMU led 40-27 at halftime, connecting on 58 percent (15-of-26) of its shots from the field while also holding an 18-6 edge in points in the paint. SMU scored six straight points from 14:40 to 12:08 to take an 18-9 lead. Memphis would answer to cut the lead to three at 10:44, but the Mustangs would hold the Tigers scoreless from 8:14 to 4:29 to take a 31-18 lead and take control of the half. SMU's lead would grow to its largest with 1:24 to go in the period at 40-24. Simpson scored 14 points in the period, while Mays added 11.
The Mustangs led by nine with 58 seconds to go, but Memphis scored eight points in 34 seconds to cut SMU's lead to one. Kiara Perry knocked down two critical free throws to extend the lead back to three, and a steal by Gabrielle Wilkins on the following Tigers possession led to another free throw by Mays to clinch the win for SMU.
Simpson passed two former Mustangs to climb up to 15th on the all-time points list. Her 20 points gave her 1,175 for her career and jumped her from 17th to start the day up two spots to 15th. Mays' 24 points means she needs just 35 more to record 1,000 in her SMU career. Simpson also collected a team-high eight rebounds and tied a career high with 10 made field goals. Mallory Singleton was the third Mustang in double-digits with 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting mark.
Next up for SMU is a home contest against top-ranked Connecticut on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Children ages 12 and under can get free admission by picking up a complimentary ticket on gameday at the ticket office at Moody Coliseum.