Nov. 14, 2013
The Mustangs are going for their third straight win of the season when they take on Eastern Washington in Cheney, Wash., Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. SMU is 2-0 after knocking off rival TCU 72-68 in overtime. Keena Mays has eclipsed 20 points in both games this season, scoring 25 against the Horned Frogs, and Destynee Hives McCray and Gabrielle Wilkins have each recorded a double-double. The Eagles are 0-1 after a 68-65 loss in their opener at Portland.
LAST TIME OUT - TCU
Keena Mays scored 22 points in the second half and overtime, finishing with 25 points to lead SMU to a 72-68 win over TCU in overtime at the Curtis Culwell Center Wednesday night. With 22 seconds left and the Mustangs leading by four, freshman Kiara Perry stole the ball at midcourt and made a fastbreak layup to give SMU a 70-64 lead with 18 seconds left, sealing the win over the rival Horned Frogs.
SMU received votes in the 2013-14 USA TODAY Sports Coaches' Poll for the second straight week. The Mustangs earned votes in the preseason poll after finishing the 2012-13 season with a 21-10 record. The Mustangs went 12-4 in Conference USA, winning the regular season in their final year in the league. SMU received votes in four straight polls last season.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
EASTERN WASHINGTON: The Eagles lost their season opener at Portland, 68-65, Friday. Center Laura Hughes led the Eagles with 17 points in 18 minutes in the defeat. Eastern Washington will have had eight full days between games before facing the Mustangs on Saturday. Eastern Washington went 19-13 (14-6 Big Sky) in 2012-13, including a 10-3 home mark. Like the Mustangs, the Eagles qualified for the WNIT, falling in the first round. Junior guard Lexie Nelson returns after averaging 14.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, earning First Team All-Big Sky honors. Sophomore Hayle Hodgins will look to build on her strong freshman campaign, for which she was named Big Sky Freshman of the Year.
Series History: This is the second meeting between SMU and Eastern Washington. The Mustangs beat the Eagles 67-60 in a regular season tournament in Laramie, Wy., on Nov. 20, 1982. It was the second game of head coach Rhonda Rompola's first season as an assistant coach at SMU.
UP NEXT - MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
The Devilettes are 0-3 this season, with a game at Illinois before they play SMU. A'Shanti Weathers leads the team with 11.3 per game, scoring 20 against Northern Illinois on Nov. 12, Mississippi Valley State's third game in four days to start the season. The Devilettes have scored 60 points just once, and all three opponents have scored at least 79, with Toledo scoring 95 in a 95-48 win.
Series History: This is the first meeting between the two schools. SMU improved to 13-2 all-time against SWAC opponents after beating Grambling State 87-65 in the season opener.
EXPERIENCE AT THE CORE
SMU returns four starters from last year's squad, who accounted for 63 percent of the team's offense in 2012-13. Keena Mays (18.5 ppg, 3.8 apg), Akil Simpson (10.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg), Destynee Hives-McCray (8.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Korina Baker (5.7 ppg, 3.6 apg) all return, along with three other contributors off the bench - Gabrielle Wilkins (6.2 ppg), Mallory Singleton (3.2 ppg, three starts) and Krystal Johnson (25 games played). Both Mays and Simpson earned all-conference honors last season, with Mays taking both Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year awards.
LEADING THE STAMPEDE
Keena Mays has scored at least 20 points 11 times in 25 games at SMU, including both games this season. The senior scored 22 in the opener, and finished with 25 against TCU, averaging a league-high 23.5 points per game. She is shooting 35.3 percent from 3-point range, and leads the team with 11 assists. She was named to the American Athletic Conference Preaseason All-Conference team after being named Conference USA Player of the Year as a junior. The Arlington, Texas, native was also a WBCA All-America finalist, averaging 18.4 points in 23 games last season.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Keena Mays became the first women's basketball player to earn American Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors after scoring a league-high 22 points on opening weekend, eclisping 20 in a game for the 10th time at SMU. She made eight of 11 free throws, and shot 40 percent on 3-point attempts.
DOUBLE OR NOTHING
Five different Mustangs have scored at least 10 points in a game this season, with three reaching double figures in both games. Keena Mays (22, 25), Akil Simpson (15, 11) and Gabrielle Wilkins (15, 11), as well as Destynee Hives-McCray (16) and Kiara Perry (12) have all tallied double digit point totals.
All nine players scored against Grambling State, the most in a game since 10 Mustangs scored at Tulane on Feb. 3, 2011, including Gabrielle Wilkins, who scored a career-high 15 points in the opener. Seven of nine players scored against TCU, with freshman Kiara Perry reaching double digits for the first time, finishing with 12 points including what proved to be the game-winning layup with 18 seconds left.
SIMPSON IS A STAR
Akil Simpson is one of three Mustangs with at least 10 points in each of the first two games. The senior scored 15 points with nine rebounds against Grambling State, and had 11 points before fouling out against TCU. She leads the team and is in the top 15 in the conference, shooting 57.9 percent from the field.
Korina Baker started all 31 games last season, her first campaign as a Mustang after transferring from North Idaho College, and ranked seventh in the conference with 3.5 assists per game. Against TCU, Baker had six assists, and her 3-pointer to give SMU a 59-58 lead was the last bucket in regulation for the Mustangs. The Valleyford, Wash., native grew up approximately 30 miles from the Eastern Washington campus in Cheney, Wash.
PRESENCE IN THE PAINT
Destynee Hives-McCray appeared in all 31 games last season, making 24 starts. She finished the season second on the team in rebounding with 6.3 per game and had a team-high seven double-doubles. Hives-McCray put together a career-best scoring performance against Southern Miss on Jan. 17, scoring 22 points to go along with 10 boards. She recorded the first double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds in the opening win, and had 10 rebounds with five points against TCU. The junior is currently tied for fifth in the conference with 10.0 rebounds per game.
A CLASS OF ONE
Kiara Perry is the lone freshman on the roster this season. She has started both games, and nearly had her first double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds against TCU. In high school, she was named MVP at the Texas state championship tournament after leading Duncanville to its second straight state title and a 70-game winning streak spanning two seasons. In her first collegiate game, she had four assists with four rebounds and two points.
AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
SMU enters the new American Athletic Conference this season. Members of the conference, which consists of former BIG EAST and Conference USA members, includes Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Rutgers, Temple, UCF and USF. Connecticut beat Louisville to win the 2013 NCAA championship, and the Bulls advanced to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The 2014 American Women's Basketball Championship will be hosted at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., March 7-10.
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.