Women's Basketball

Mustangs Face No. 24 Rutgers In Conference Quarterfinals Saturday

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!

March 6, 2014

 SMU (17-12) vs. No. 24 Rutgers (21-8)
 Date & Tip Time  Saturday, March 8 at 11 a.m. CT
 Location  Mohegan Sun Arena - Uncasville, Conn.
 Video  ESPN3
 Radio  KAAM 770 AM - Dallas
 Live Stats  Gametracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (.pdf)
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 Twitter  @SMUMustangs   |   @SMUBasketballW
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The Last Meeting
February 8, 2014
Moody Coliseum
Rutgers Tops SMU At The Buzzer, 65-64
DALLAS (SMU) - The SMU Mustangs had five players score in double figures, but a last-second tip-in by Rachel Holivay gave Rutgers a 65-64 victory over the Mustangs at Moody Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

SMU, the No. 5 seed in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship, takes on No. 4-seed Rutgers, ranked 24th nationally, in the quarterfinals Saturday at 11 a.m. CT at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The Mustangs are 17-12 overall, led by senior Keena Mays, the league's top scorer with 20.8 points per game. Rutgers enters the contest with a 21-8 record, including a pair of wins over the Mustangs.

Kahleah Copper leads the Scarlet Knights with 15.8 points per game, shooting 55.7 percent. Betnijah Laney averages 12.4 points with a team-high 8.9 rebounds, and Tyler Scaife is the league's top-scoring freshman with 13.7 points per game. Rutgers is second in the league, holding opponents to 58.2 points per game.

Series History: This will be the third meeting of the season and third all-time between the programs, with Rutgers taking a 64-54 win in Piscataway, N.J., on Jan. 11. The Scarlet Knights stole the second game on a tip-in basket with 0.1 seconds left for a 65-64 win in Moody Coliseum on Feb. 8. Keena Mays scored 31 points in the two games, and Akil Simpson scored 21 points combined, with a double-double in the first meeting.

Keena Mays scored 26 points, leading three seniors in double figures as SMU (17-12, 8-10 American Athletic Conference) knocked off UCF (10-19, 3-15 The American) 79-67 on Senior Day in Moody Coliseum Tuesday. The guard from Arlington, Texas, was 8-of-16 from the field, including three 3-point field goals to pass Jillian Samuels for the single-season record at SMU with 73 this season. Mays also became just the second player in program history with 600 points in a season, totaling 602 through 29 games. Korina Baker matched her career high with 17 points and passed out six assists during her final home game at SMU, and Akil Simpson recorded her 10th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Barring an upset, the winner between SMU and Rutgers will face No. 1-seed and top-ranked Connecticut in the semifinals Sunday at 12 p.m. CT. The Huskies are led by Breanna Stewart, who trails only Keena Mays in the conference with 19.5 points per game. Stefanie Dolson is just below a double-double, averaging 12.4 points and 9.1 rebounds, and Bria Hartley is scoring 16.6 per game, and is one of six players on the team shooting above 35-percent from outside the arc. Connecticut is also holding opponents to a national-low 46.7 points, while scoring 83.4 per game as a team.

Series History: The Huskies are 2-0 all-time against the Mustangs after winning both games this season. Keena Mays scored 20 in the first game, and 13 in the second contest.

Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs against 37 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, the Western Athletic Conference, and Conference USA before joining The American. SMU has played conference games in 22 different states, as far west as Hawaii and as far north as Idaho. This season, SMU added six new schools in five new states to its list of conference opponents.

Keena Mays leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks 32nd in the NCAA with 20.8 points per game, and is one of three players in the conference with multiple Player of the Week awards, earning her league-best fourth honor on Feb. 1 after scoring 24 against Cincinnati and 30 against Temple, reaching 30 for the third time this season. She has eclipsed 20 points 17 times this season, including games against Connecticut and Louisville, and also ranks among the league's leaders in assists (10th-3.4/game), steals (3rd-2.2/game), and three-point percentage (1st-38.2 percent).

Keena Mays matched her career high with 34 points against Houston Saturday, becoming the first player in program history to score at least 30, four times in one season. She scored 34 at UTEP on Dec. 7, and finished with 32 in the next game at North Texas on Dec. 21. She also scored 30 against Temple on Feb. 1. Current SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola is the only other player to score 30 three times in a season at SMU, scoring 35 and 30 twice during the 1981-82 season.

Keena Mays has 73 3-pointers this season, eclipsing Jillian Samuels' former record of 72, set during the 2007-08 season. Mays made 64 in 23 games last season, and ranks third all-time at SMU with 137 in two seasons on the Hilltop. Samuels holds the all-time record with 249.

Keena Mays became the 22nd Mustang to score 1,000 points in her career at SMU on Saturday, March, 1 as she entered that game with 978 career points and totaled 22 at USF. The senior scored the 1,000th point of her career at Cincinnati earlier this season. In 51 games on the Hilltop, Mays has scored 1,026 points, including 602 this season, becoming just the fourth player in program history to score 500 in a season and the second player in program history with 600 in a season. Head coach Rhonda Rompola holds the single-season record with 683 points during the 1981-82 season. Mays scored 331 points in 42 games at Kansas before transferring to SMU.

Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points in 26 games, including a season-high 23 against Temple on Feb. 1. The senior posted her 10th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds vs. UCF on senior day in Dallas. The Duncanville, Texas native now has 26 during for her career. She scored 11 points against No. 3/4 Tennessee and had 14 at No. 7/7 Louisville. Simpson leads the team, is sixth in the conference and ranks 46th in the NCAA, shooting 52.2 percent from the field. She is averaging 13.7 points, ninth in The American, with 8.3 rebounds, seventh in the conference.

Akil Simpson posted her 10th double-double of the season against UCF with 10 points and 10 rebounds becoming the first Mustang to record 10 in a season since Janelle Dodds posted 12 during the 2005-06 season. Simpson is now one of seven Mustangs with 10 double-doubles in a season, with Dodds and Shasta Smothers-Johnson accomplishing the feat twice. Smothers-Johnson holds the record with 15 double-doubles during the 1984-85 season. Simpson now matches Karlin Kennedy for third all-time at SMU with 26 career double-doubles. Dodds and Shasta Smothers-Johnson hold the SMU record with 38 career double-doubles.

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. She has 1,208 points and passed Andrea Cossey to climb to 13th all-time at SMU with 10 points vs. UCF. Delisha Wills is next on the list at 12th with 1,260 points from 2006-11.

The Mustangs have played five games against a ranked opponent this season (Tennessee, Louisville twice, and UConn twice), and will face a sixth ranked opponent for the first time in program history against No. 24 Rutgers Saturday. 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. Rutgers and UTEP were also receiving votes during the time of the three games against SMU. There are currently three ranked teams in The American.

Kiara Perry has scored at least 10 points 10 times, including six of the last 14 games. She was named Freshman of the Week in The American on Dec. 30. In conference games, she is shooting 35.1 percent and averaging 8.0 points with 4.5 rebounds.

The Mustangs have forced 501 turnovers on the season, while committing 458, and are averaging 17.6 points off turnovers per game. SMU is 10-5 when committing fewer turnovers than opponents, and ranks fourth in the conference with a +1.48 turnover margin. SMU has 218 steals this season, averaging 7.5 per game. Five players have at least 20 steals, led by Mays' 64.

The Mustangs have recorded 435 assists on 711 field goals this season, ranking fourth in The American with 1.0 assists per game. SMU is fourth in the league with a 0.9 assist/turnover margin. Korina Baker leads the team with 105 assists and ranks eighth in The American with 3.6 per game. The senior recorded a season-high eight at Memphis. Keena Mays has 100 assists, including a season-high eight three times, ranking 10th in the league with 3.4 per game.

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.

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. SMU has won two conference tournament championships, winning the WAC 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.



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