Feb. 2, 2014
The Mustangs put their three game win streak on the line Tuesday at No. 1 UConn. Fans can watch SMU take on the top-ranked team for the first time in program history on ESPN3.com or on TV as part of the ESPN Game Plan package. The previous highest-ranked opponent was No. 3 Oklahoma on Dec. 5, 2001. SMU is fifth in the American Athletic Conference at 5-5, 14-7 overall, after knocking off Temple 85-75 at home, while the Huskies are 23-0 and tied with Louisville for the top spot in the conference at 10-0.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT - NO. 1 UCONN
The Huskies have the nation's 13th-ranked scoring offense, averaging 84.5 points per game with five players scoring in double figures, led by Breanna Stewart's 19.2. UConn leads the country in scoring defense, holding opponents to 47.7 points per game. The Huskies have eight wins over seven different ranked teams, including five against top 10 teams. Stefanie Dolson is averaging 12.5 points and 9.3 rebounds, and UConn shoots 50.7 percent as a team.
Series History: This is the first meeting between the two programs.
LAST TIME OUT - TEMPLE
Keena Mays scored 30, Akil Simpson added 23 with 12 rebounds, and the Mustangs used a late 17-0 run to defeat the Temple Owls, 85-75. Simpson's double-double is her eighth of the year, and Mays reached 30 points for the third time this season. The Mustangs trailed 64-58 with 8:36 left in the game, but then went on a 17-0 run over the next 6:05 to take control of the contest. The run was accentuated by a four-point play by Mays with 6:40 remaining, after the senior was fouled as she made a three from the left wing. The play gave SMU a 66-64 lead, and SMU would lead by 11 with less than three minutes to go. Back-to-back three-pointers by the Owls would cut SMU's lead to five, 80-75, with 39 seconds remaining, but Temple was not able to get any closer.
UP NEXT - RUTGERS
The Mustangs host Rutgers Saturday at 2 p.m. The Scarlet Knights are receiving votes in the AP Poll with a 16-5 record overall, 7-3 in The American. Rutgers is led in scoring by Kahleah Copper, who averages 15.7 points per contest. Two other Scarlet Knights average double-digit scoring, including Betnijah Laney, who also leads the team in rebounds with 9.5 per game, good for second in the conference. Rachel Hollivay leads the American with 3.3 blocks per game, helping Rutgers earn the second-ranked scoring defense in the league, holding opponents to 58.0 points per game.
Series History: This will be the second meeting of the season and second all-time between the programs, with Rutgers taking a 64-54 win in Piscataway, N.J., on Jan. 11. Keena Mays scored 15 in the first meeting, while Akil Simpson and Kiara Perry both posted double-doubles.
Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs against 36 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 21 different states, as far west as Hawaii and as far north as Idaho. By the end of this season, SMU will add one more school and one more state to its list of conference opponents on Tuesday when the Mustangs play at UConn.
LEADING THE LEAGUE
Keena Mays leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks 33rd in the NCAA with 20.1 points per game, and is one of three players 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 points 11 times this season, and also ranks among the league's leaders in assists (6th-4.1/game), steals (3rd-2.2/game), and three-point percentage (T-3rd-37.5 percent). Mays topped 30 points for the third time this season with 30 points against Temple on Feb. 1.
GRAND AND A-MAYS-ING
Keena Mays scored the 1,000th point of her career at Cincinnati. The senior guard scored 331 points in 42 games at Kansas before transferring to SMU. In 44 games on the Hilltop, Mays has scored 846 points. She would need to average 20 points for the rest of the season to get to 1,000 points at SMU.
SIMPSON IS A STAR
Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points in 19 of 21 games, including a season-high 23 against Temple on Feb. 1. The senior posted her eighth double-double of the season with 23 points and 12 rebounds vs. Temple, and has 24 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 fifth in the conference and ranks 28th in the NCAA, shooting 55.5 percent from the field. She is averaging 14.2 points, eighth in The American, with 8.2 rebounds, tied for seventh 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, and finished with 12 points, reaching double digits for the seventh straight game. She has 1,110 points, passing former teammate Alisha Filmore for 18th all-time at SMU with 15 at Houston. She needs 49 more points to pass Jillian Samuels for 15th all-time at SMU.
BATTLING THE BEST
The Mustangs have played three games against a ranked opponent this season (Tennessee and Louisville twice), and have two game on the schedule against No. 1 Connecticut. SMU played five ranked opponents during the 2003-04 season, but just two games against a team ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game. This season, all five opponents are currently in the top 10.
Kiara Perry has scored at least 10 points nine times, including five of the last seven games. She was named Freshman of the Week in The American on Dec. 30. Since the start of conference play, she is shooting just under 40 percent and averaging 9.6 points with 4.7 rebounds.
PASSING THE ROCK
The Mustangs have recorded 342 assists on 545 field goals this season, good for fourth in The American with 16.3 assists per game. SMU is third in the league with a 1.0 assist/turnover margin. Keena Mays leads the team with 87 assists, including a season-high eight three times, and ranks sixth in the league with 4.1 per game. Korina Baker has 75 assists, ranking ninth with 3.6 per game.
GET THE BALL
The Mustangs have forced 376 turnovers on the season, and are averaging 19.0 points off turnovers per game. SMU is 10-2 when committing fewer turnovers than opponents, and ranks third in the conference with a +2.3 turnover margin. SMU has 155 steals this season, averaging 7.9 per game. Six players have at least 10 steals, led by Mays' 46.
MOODY GETS A FACELIFT
The $47 million renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum, which opened in December 1956, was 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.
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.