Women's Basketball

League-Leader SMU Battles Second-Place UTEP In El Paso Sunday

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!

Feb. 1, 2013

 SMU (15-4, 6-0) vs. UTEP (17-2, 5-1)
 Date & Tip Time  Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. CT
 Location  Don Haskins Center - El Paso, Texas
 Tickets  214-768-4263 or SMUMustangs.com/tickets
 Radio  KAAM 770 AM
 Live Video  Mustang All-Access
 Live Stats  SMU Gametracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (.pdf)

The Last Meeting
February 23, 2012
El Paso, Texas
Mustangs Unable To Pull Off Upset At UTEP
EL PASO, Texas (SMU) - The Mustangs fell 68-50 to UTEP Thursday night as the Miners remained undefeated in Conference USA and claimed the regular season title with the win. UTEP improved to 25-2 overall and 14-0 in conference, while SMU fell to 12-15 and 5-9 in C-USA.

Radio: KAAM 770AM Ray Canevari (Play-by-Play)
Location: El Paso, Texas (Don Haskins Center)
Live stats and video available on SMUMustangs.com

League-leading SMU (15-4, 6-0 C-USA) takes on second-place UTEP (17-2, 5-1 C-USA) in El Paso, Texas at 2 p.m. CT, with a chance to match the second longest streak in school history, eight games. Sunday's matchup pits two of C-USA's top three scoring offenses and top four scoring defenses against each other. The Mustangs then return to Moody Coliseum for back-to-back home games, starting with UAB (13-6, 4-2 C-USA) on Thursday at 7 p.m.

SMU: The Mustangs have won seven straight games, led by Keena Mays. The junior transfer would rank second in Conference USA with 19.6 points per game if she met the 75 percent of games minimum. Alisha Filmore, 12.0 ppg, and Akil Simpson, 9.9 ppg, each rank in the top 25 in the league. SMU leads Conference USA in 3-point percentage, 36.6, and rank second in scoring offense, 68.7 points per game.

UTEP: The Miners are the league's top-rated team in the RPI at 52 with a 17-2 record, 5-1 in C-USA. Kayla Thornton leads the team with 15.1 points per game, connecting on 29.7 percent of 3-point attempts, and Anete Steinberga averages 14.0 points at the post position. Kelli Willingham is the team's sharpshooter, connecting on 35 of 94 3-point attempts. As a team, UTEP scores 67.2 points per game, while holding opponents to 54.8.

SERIES HISTORY: The Mustangs are 22-10 against the Miners overall, but after winning six of seven, SMU has dropped the last three. The Mustangs swept the season series in 2010-11 before falling to UTEP in the conference tournament in El Paso. SMU won the first meeting between the two schools 69-63 in Dallas on Jan. 10, 1997, starting a string of eight straight wins for the Mustangs.

The Blazers are currently tied for third in Conference USA after a 54-51 loss to Southern Miss, but handed UTEP one of just two losses earlier this season. Amber Jones leads the team with 13.8 points per game, and Karisma Chapman averages 12.8 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds. The Blazers average 62.3 points per game, but lead the league in scoring defense, holding opponents to 53.0.

SERIES HISTORY: The Mustangs are just 3-6 all time agaisnt the Blazers, but have won two of three in Dallas. Six of the nine games in the series have been decided by five points or less, including the last two. Alisha Filmore scored a game-high 14 points for the Mustangs last season, but Amber Jones hit a 3 with 12 seconds left to seal a 50-46 win for the Blazers in Birmingham. The two teams first met Dec. 28. 1991 when UAB took an 82-81 win in San Jose, Calif. It was the only time they faced each other until SMU joined Conference USA prior to the 2005-06 season.

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.

Junior transfer Keena Mays has established herself as a candidate for Conference USA Player of the Year after scoring at least 20 points in six of her first 11 games at SMU, including a career-high 33 points against Stephen F. Austin. She is averaging 19.6 points per game, which would rank second in the conference and tied for 20th in the NCAA if she met the 75 percent of the team's games minimum. Her 3-point percentage, 42.5, would also lead the conference and rank tied for 17th nationally.

In conference games, the Mustangs are scoring more points, 68.7, than any team in the league, and SMU is second in C-USA overall. Three of SMU's five starters average at least 10 points against C-USA opponents, led by Keena Mays with 15.5 per game. Alisha Filmore is averaging 10.5, and Akil Simpson is scoring 10.0. Three other players are scoring more than seven per game.

Senior Alisha Filmore has scored at least 10 points in 15 games this season, including seven of the last nine, with a season-high 22 in the win over Harvard. She is 15th in C-USA, averaging 12.0 points per game and is eighth in the league shooting 33.3 percent from 3-point range. She has 910 points in her career, needing to 90 points with at least 11 games left to become the 20th player in program history with 1,000 career points.

SMU is 35th in the country, averaging 11.5 steals per game, and is 24th in the NCAA in turnover margin, forcing opponents into 5.05 more turnovers per game. Alisha Filmore leads the team with 43 steals after grabbing six against Houston, and is 11th in the league with 2.3 per game. Korina Baker has 39 steals, 13th in C-USA with 2.1 per game. Baker is also 93rd in the NCAA in assists/turnover ratio, and freshman Gabrielle Wilkins has 31 steals on the season, with a C-USA record-tying 10 against SIUE.

Korina Baker has a team-high 70 assists and is eighth in the league with 3.7 per game. She handed out a career-high nine assists against Montana State, and has had at least four eight times. She also scored a career-high 17 points against UCF, and has reached double figures four times this season, averaging 6.3 points per game.

The Mustangs lead Conference USA and are 16th in the NCAA, shooting 36.6 percent from the perimeter, making 98 of 268 3-point attempts. Korina Baker leads C-USA, going 24-for-58 from distance, 41.4 percent. Keena Mays, who doesn't meet the minimums for rankings, is shooting 42.5 percent, which would lead the conference and tie for 17th nationally. Mays has made 31 of 73 attempts in 11 games, including a career-high six against Rice. SMU leads C-USA and is 13th in NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to just 25.2 percent. The last three opponents are a combined 3-for-39 from behind the arc.

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 22 seasons ago. Assistant coach Deneen Parker is in her 18th season with the Mustangs. The SMU staff has the second longest active tenure of any staff at one school. Danny Hughes joined the staff prior to the 2009-10 season and is in his fourth year with the program.

SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament seven times and the WNIT four times in 21 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 two regular season titles under her leadership. She has coached three All-Americans, two Conference Players of the Year, two Conference Defensive Players of the Year and 31 All-Conference selections. Rompola has also been named Coach of the Year six times during her career.

SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola has won 395 games during her career at SMU. With five more wins, Rompola would get her ninth 20-win season and reach 400 wins in her career, something only 40 NCAA Division I coaches have accomplished in their careers. Last season, Rompola passed former SMU men's soccer head coach Schellas Hyndman for most wins by a coach at SMU with the 369th win of her career, a 47-38 victory over TCU on Nov. 17, 2011. She earned her 350th career win on Feb. 25, 2010 with a 69-61 win against UCF.

The Mustangs scored 88 points against Harvard, the most since Dec. 28, 2008 when they scored 92 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and have scored at least 70 in 11 games, including 10 of the last 14, after reaching 70 just four times last season. SMU had two players eclipse 20 points in consecutive games, and the Mustangs are averaging 68.7 points per game, nearly 10 points more than last year. Keena Mays is second in the league with 19.6 points per game, and Alisha Filmore is scoring 12.0 per game. Akil Simpson is averaging 9.9 per game, and the trio has each had at least 20 points in a game. Sophomore Destynee Hives-McCray became the fourth Mustangs to eclipse 20, scoring a career-high 22 at Southern Miss.

After scoring just 25 points in the first five games, Akil Simpson has scored at least 10 points 10 times this season, including seven of the last 10 games with a season-high 20 points at San Diego State. The junior is sixth in Conference USA, shooting 45.8 percent from the field, and leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game, 11th in C-USA. She posted her third double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds against Rice.

SMU's three starting guards each have at least 20 3-point field goals, led by Keena Mays, shooting what would be a league-high 42.5 percent, 31-of-73. Korina Baker leads the conference shooting 41.4 percent from behind the arc, making 24 of 58, and is shooting 55.0 percent in C-USA games. Senior Alisha Filmore has made 25 3-pointers, eighth in the league at 33.3 percent from behind the arc. As a team, the Mustangs have made at least five in 12 games, including six of the last eight. SMU made a season-high 10 in 16 attempts at TCU and hit 10 of 20 against Rice.

In two games at the Surf 'N Slam Classic in San Diego, Keena Mays teamed with Akil Simpson and then Alisha Filmore to give SMU two players with at least 20 points. Mays scored 26 at San Diego State and Simpson finished with 20. In SMU's win over Harvard, Mays scored 25 and Filmore added 22.

Out of 343 NCAA Division I women's basketball teams, SMU is ranked in the top 60 in nine categories. The Mustangs are 16th in the country in 3-point field goal percentage, 36.6, and 13th in 3-point field goal defense, holding opponents to 25.2 percent. Winning 78.9 percent of games, the Mustangs are 33rd in the country in win-lost percentage.

The new SMU marketing slogan "SMU is Dallas' Team" is a very accurate description of the women's basketball program. Since the start of the program in 1976, 72 of 105 letter winners were natives of Texas. This season, 12 of 14 players are Texas natives, and all 12 list hometowns in or around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Of the four coaches on staff, head coach Rhonda Rompola, a New Jersey native, is the only one not from Texas.

Destynee Hives-McCray scored a career-high 22 points in SMU's 79-69 win at Southern Miss, and has reached double figures in eight games this season, including three of the last four games. She also grabbed 10 rebounds at USM for her fourth double-double of the season. The forward is averaging 8.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

SMU has earned 10 of its 15 wins by at least 10 points, including five by more than 20. The Mustangs are second in C-USA and 48th in the NCAA in scoring margin, out-scoring opponents by an average of 10.7 points per game. SMU leads the league, out-scoring conference opponents by 13.7 points. The Mustangs doubled up UT-Pam Am, 71-35, for the largest margin of victory, 36, since beating Memphis 93-49 on Feb. 14 2008.



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