Nov. 17, 2013
The Mustangs are going for their fourth straight win of the season Tuesday at home against Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. With a win over the Devilettes (0-4) SMU would be off to its best start since winning the first five games of the 2009-10 season. Keena Mays is averaging 20.7 points per game, and Destynee Hives-McCray is scoring 10.0 with 9.7 rebounds per game.
LAST TIME OUT - EASTERN WASHINGTON
SMU used a strong second half to hold off a hot-shooting Eastern Washington squad, 75-70, in the Mustangs' first road contest of the 2013-14 season in Cheney, Wash., on Saturday afternoon. Senior guard Keena Mays tallied 15 points with eight assists and eight rebounds to help lead SMU to the win.
After trailing much of the first half, Mays gave SMU a 46-45 lead with a layup at the 15:05 mark of the second half, and SMU would not trail the rest of the game, extending their lead to as much as eight points with just over eight minutes left in the contest
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
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE: The Devilettes are 0-4 this season after a 93-70 loss at Illinois, the second time Mississippi Valley has given up at least 90 points in a game. A'Shanti Weathers leads the team with 11.0 points per game, scoring 20 against Northern Illinois on Nov. 12, Mississippi Valley State's third game in four days to start the season. Olivia Kennedy scored 18 against Illinois. The Devilettes have scored 60 points twice in the first four games, but all four 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.
UP NEXT - STEPHEN F. AUSTIN
The Ladyjacks are 1-2 after getting their first win of the season against Georgia State in their final game of the Preseason WNIT. SFA will play at Arizona on Nov. 20 before hosting the Mustangs on Nov. 23. Porsha Roberts leads the team with 22.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Series History: The Mustangs are just 6-10 all-time against Stephen F. Austin, but SMU has won four of the last five, including two of the last three on the road.
Last Meeting: Keena Mays scored 33 points in her first game at SMU, leading the Mustangs to a 71-62 win at home against SFA. Akil Simpson also had 13 points and nine rebounds in the win.
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 the first two games this season. The senior scored 22 in the opener, and finished with 25 against TCU. After nearly recording the first triple-double in SMU history with 15 points, eight assists and eight rebounds at EWU, Mays is averaging 20.7 points per game. She is shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range, and leads the team with 19 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.
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 Mays (22, 25, 15) and Simpson (15, 11, 16) reaching double figures in all three games. Gabrielle Wilkins (15, 11) and freshman Kiara Perry (12, 14) have scored at least 10 twice, and Destynee Hives-McCray scored 16 in the season opener.
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, and eight Mustangs tallied points at Eastern Washington.
SIMPSON IS A STAR
Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points in each of the first three games. The senior scored 15 points with nine rebounds against Grambling State, and had 11 points before fouling out against TCU. She had a season-high 16 points with seven boards at EWU, and leads the team and is in the top 15 in the conference, shooting 54.8 percent from the field.
HOME SWEET HOME
Korina Baker, a native of Valleyford, Wash., which is approximately 30 miles from Cheney, Wash., scored nine points with four assists and four rebounds at Eastern Washington. The senior went 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and also had a steal in the win. 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.
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 averaging 10.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game this season.
A CLASS OF ONE
Kiara Perry is the lone freshman on the roster this season. She has started all three games, and nearly had her first double-double with 12 points and eight rebounds against TCU. In her first road game, Perry scored 14, going 8-for-10 at the free throw line, and had nine rebounds. 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.
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.