Jan. 9, 2014
SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola returns to her home state of New Jersey to lead the Mustangs against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are receiving votes in both polls, marking the fourth team SMU has faced this season that was ranked or receiving votes at the time of the game. The road matchup begins a string of three road games out of the next four contests for the Mustangs, including two straight before a home game against No. 5 Louisville Jan. 19.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT - (RV/RV) RUTGERS
Rutgers is on an eight game win streak, including its first three conference games, and the Scarlet Knights are 7-0 at home with a 12-2 record overall. Kahleah Copper leads the team with 16.7 points per game, and is one of four Scarlet Knights averaging at least 10 points. As a team, Rutgers is out-scoring opponents 68.1-53.6. The Scarlet Knights are shooting 45.2 percent from the field, and 357 of their 379 field goals were made inside the arc.
Series History: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
LAST TIME OUT - MEMPHIS
Akil Simpson tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds as SMU defeated Memphis, 80-75, in double-overtime at the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum on Tuesday night. The double-double is Simpson's fifth of the season.
SMU improved to 11-4 (2-2 The American) with the win, while Memphis dropped to 7-8 (0-3). The Mustangs are now 3-0 in overtime games this season.
The Mustangs did not allow a point over the last 3:06 of the second overtime, going on a 7-0 run to finish the game after Brei Wilder-Cochran hit a three-pointer to give Memphis a 75-73 lead. Keena Mays started the run to the win with a three-point play with 2:19 remaining to give SMU a 76-75 lead, and SMU hit four free throws down the stretch to close the game.
UP NEXT - TEMPLE
For the second time in two weeks, the Mustangs will be on the road for six straight days, playing Temple in Philadelphia Tuesday at 11 a.m. CT in the second leg of the road trip. Feyond Fitzgerald leads the team with 14.0 points per game, and Natasha Thames is averaging 13.4 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds. The Owls are shooting 42.2 percent from the field and scoring 67.6 points per game, but are one of just two teams in the league averaging less than 40 rebounds per game (39.4).
Series History: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs against 34 different conference opponents during her time as head coach. The American Athletic Conference is the fourth the SMU women's basketball team has been a member of, competing in the Southwest Conference (8 opponents) until joining the Western Athletic Conference (18 opponents, 16 new) prior to the 1996-97 season. The Mustangs became members of Conference USA (11 opponents, 7 new) in 2005-06. The Mustangs have played conference games in 19 different states, as far west as Hawaii and as far north as Idaho. By the end of this season, SMU will add three more schools and three states to its list of conference opponents.
LEADING THE LEAGUE
Keena Mays leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks 39th in the NCAA with 19.5 points per game, and is the only player in the conference with multiple Player of the Week awards, earning her third on Dec. 9 after scoring a career-high 34 points in a five-point loss at UTEP, and broke 30 for the second straight game with 32 at North Texas. She has eclipsed 20 seven times this season, and also ranks among the league's leaders in assists (6th-4.0/game), steals (4th-2.1/game), and three-point percentage (6th-36.1 percent).
SIMPSON IS A STAR
Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points in 14 of the first 15 games, including a season-high 22 against Memphis. The senior also had 13 rebounds against the Tigers for her fifth double-double of the season, and has 21 during her career, recording nine as a sophomore. She scored 11 points against No. 3/4 Tennessee and had 14 at No. 7/7 Louisville. Simpson leads the team, is third in the conference and ranks 23rd in the NCAA, shooting 58.2 percent from the field. She is averaging 14.4 points, seventh in The American, with 8.1 rebounds, ranking sixth in the conference.
REACHING A MILESTONE
Akil Simpson made the reopening of Moody Coliseum on Jan. 4 against USF a day that will live forever, becoming the 21st player to score 1,000 points during a career at SMU. The senior entered the game needing seven points to reach the milestone figure, and finished with 12 points, reaching double digits for the seventh straight game.
GRAND AND A-MAYS-ING
Keena Mays scored the 1,000th point of her career at Cincinnati. The senior guard scored 331 points in 43 games at Kansas before transferring to SMU. In 38 games on the Hilltop, Mays has scored 717 points. She would need to average 20 points for the rest of the season to get to 1,000 points at SMU.
A LITTLE EXTRA
The Mustangs have played three overtime games this season for the first time during the regular season, and matching the most overtime games in a season. SMU played two regular-season overtime games during the 1997-98 and 2003-04 seasons, and had an overtime contest in both conference tournaments during those seasons. SMU is 3-0 in overtime games for the first time in program history, beating TCU and North Texas in overtime and Memphis in double overtime. The Mustangs have never played more than four overtime periods in a season, something they have done four times (1989-90, 1996-97, 2010-11, 2013-14), despite playing four overtimes in one game at TCU in a 127-125 win on Jan. 25, 1997.
GET THE BALL
The Mustangs have forced 277 turnovers on the season, and are averaging 20.7 points off turnovers per game, seven more than opponents. SMU ranks fourth in the conference with a +3.1 turnover margin. SMU has 126 steals this season, averaging 8.4 per game. Five players have at least 15 steals, led by Keena Mays' 31.
PASSING THE ROCK
The Mustangs have recorded 230 assists on 360 field goals this season, ranking third in The American with 16.4 assists per game. SMU is second in the league with a 1.1 assist/turnover margin. Keena Mays leads the team with 57 assists, including a season-high eight at Eastern Washington and again at SFA, and ranks seventh in the league with 4.1 per game. Korina Baker has 48 assists, ranking 11th with 3.4 per game. Freshman Kiara Perry has 29, and forward Mallory Singleton has 27 with a career-high seven against Southeastern Louisiana.
PRESENCE IN THE PAINT
Destynee Hives-McCray is third on the team with 11.0 points per game, and the post player is second with 7.0 rebounds per game. She is one of just two Mustangs shooting at least 50 percent with more than 20 attemps, hitting 53.8 percent from the field. She has reached double figures six times this season, and has two double-doubles. She has also grabbed at least 10 rebounds in three games.
MOODY GETS A FACELIFT
The $47 million renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum, which opened in December 1956, will be completed in December, and the Mustangs will host all conference games on campus. The renovated Moody Coliseum will provide many new and improved features, including a renovated main entry lobby, expanded concourses with raised ceilings, club seats, loge boxes, private suites, group suites, new event space, offices, team locker rooms and meeting space. SMU will play its first basketball games with a men's and women's doubleheader on Jan. 4. The women will play USF at 3:30 in ESPN3.
NEW HEIGHTS IN BROADCAST COVERAGE
For the first time in program history, SMU women's basketball fans will have the opportunity to watch all 29 regular-season games live this season. The Mustangs will have two games on ESPNU this season, Dec. 29 at Louisville, and again when SMU hosts the Cardinals on Jan. 19 in the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum. ESPN will broadcast two games live on its digital channel, ESPN3, including the first game of the season in Moody Coliseum, a Jan. 4 matchup against USF. The Memphis game on Feb. 22 in the FedEx Forum will also be on ESPN3. SportsNet New York will carry both games against Connecticut. SMU will also play seven games on the American Digital Network, and the other eight home games will air on PonyUp TV.
Head coach Rhonda Rompola and associate head coach Lisa Dark have been together on the sidelines since Rompola took over the reins of the program 23 seasons ago. Assistant coach Deneen Parker is in her 19th season with the Mustangs. The SMU staff has the second longest active tenure of any staff at one school. Danny Hughes is in his fifth year with the program.
Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament seven times and the WNIT five times in 22 seasons. The Mustangs have captured two conference tournament championships, winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament in 1999 and the C-USA tournament in 2008, and three regular season titles under her leadership. She has coached three All-Americans, three Conference Players of the Year, two Conference Defensive Players of the Year and 34 All-Conference selections. Rompola has also earned six Coach of the Year honors during her career.