March 23, 2008
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WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. (SMU) - Sophomore guard Jillian Samuels drilled four three-pointers to establish a new SMU record for shots from long range in an NCAA Tournament game, and raised her single-season total to 72 - another SMU record - in the Mustangs' 75-62 loss to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Purdue University's Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.
Samuels entered the game with 68 three-pointers this season, tying her with Andrea Cossey for the most in SMU history. But after the Mustangs fell behind early by as many as 17, Samuels nailed a shot from behind the arc with 2:35 left to pull the Ponies to within six points at 36-30. Samuels ended the night with 15 points, sharing team scoring honors with 15 points. The game was the seventh this season in which Samuels has hit at least four three-pointers.
SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola said after the game Notre Dame benefited from the experience that comes with having made it to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th consecutive season.
"We dug ourselves a heck of a hole, but we fought all the way back to tie it (in the second half), and we have to be proud of that - we never quit," Rompola said. "But the entire Notre Dame roster played a heck of a game. We have a lot of experience, but this was the first NCAA team we've had in a while. We have experience, but at the beginning, Notre Dame played like the team that has been to the NCAA Tournament. We wish we were going on and playing again Tuesday, but these seniors have to look at what they've done at SMU and be very proud."
Dodds also further entrenched herself in the SMU record books. After finishing the night with 15 points, five rebounds and a blocked shot, Dodds finished her career with the SMU records in points (1,861) and rebounds (974), and broke her tie with Katie Remke to take over sole possession of third place in school history with 110 blocked shots.
SMU's NCAA Tournament capped off a remarkable season for the Mustangs, who won a school-record 24 games, beat nationally-ranked UTEP to win the Conference USA Tournament title and reached the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in school history.
The game also was the final game in the careers of SMU's five seniors: Dodds, Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Sharee Shepherd, guard Katy Cobb, forward Katie Gross and post Brittany Barker. Over their careers, the five seniors contributed 4,420 points, 1,860 rebounds, 791 assists, 596 steals and 229 blocked shots.