Dec. 3, 2013
The Mustangs host Southeastern Louisiana Wednesday at 7 p.m., before going on a four-game road trip, which includes the first two American Athletic Conference games. SMU, led by senior Keena Mays, is 7-1 on the season, with a neutral-site loss to No. 3/4 Tennessee as the only blemish. Mays is second in The American, scoring 18.4 points per game, and has eclipsed 20 four times this season. The Lady Lions are 1-7 on the season, losing their last seven after a season-opening win at Mobile.
LAST TIME OUT - NO. 3/4 TENNESSEE
The Mustangs suffered their first loss of the season, falling to 7-1 after an 87-47 defeat to No. 3/4 Tennessee Friday night in the championship game of the Junkanoo Jam Bahamas tournament. The Lady Vols improved to 7-0 with the win. Keena Mays finished with 12 points, earning all-tournament honors, and Akil Simpson scored 11, but is wasn't enough to overcome Tennessee, which had four players in double digits, led by Ariel Massengale's 16-point performance. The Lady Vols shot 46.6 percent from the field for the game, while SMU was held to a season-low 26.3 shooting percentage.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA: The Lady Lions are 1-7 on the season, losing their last seven after a season-opening win at Mobile. Three of Southeastern's starters average more than 10 points per game, led by Symone Miller, who is averaging 15.8 and has scored at least 10 five times with a season-high 35 in the opener. Opponents are out-scoring the Lady Lions nearly 79-65, and the Lady Lions have committed 58 more turnovers through eight games.
Series History: SMU won the only meeting between the two schools, taking a 71-60 victory on Dec. 30, 1993 in Hammond, La.
UP NEXT - UTEP
SMU begins a four-game road trip at UTEP Saturday at 5:30 p.m. CT. The Miners are 6-0 on the season, with a road contest at New Mexico State Tuesday. Kayla Thornton leads the team with 16.0 points per game. While Thornton is the only player averaging double figures, eight players are scoring at least five, and UTEP is scoring 80.2 points per game as a team. The Miners are out-scoring opponents by almost 30, allowing just 51.5 points per game.
Series History: The Mustangs are 24-10 all-time against the Miners, including a 12-6 record in El Paso. SMU won both games last season, including a 73-71 win at home to clinch the regular-season conference title.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Keena Mays earned her second American Athletic Conference Player of the Week award after being named to the Junkanoo Jam Bahamas All-Tournament team, scoring 27 points in two games in the tournament, including a 12-point performance against No. 3 Tennessee in the championship game. The senior averaged 16 points, four rebounds and four assists per game, leading the Mustangs to a 2-1 record for the week. She scored 15 points with four rebounds and four assists in a win over Kansas State, leading SMU to its seventh straight win to match the program-best 7-0 start to the 1993-94 season. She then scored 12 points with six rebounds and three assists, all team highs, against Tennessee. Mays started the week with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists against Lamar, and has scored at least 10 points in all eight games this season, including four games with more than 20 points. She is second in the conference, scoring 18.4 points per game, and ranks eighth in the league, shooting 36.5 percent from behind the arc.
DOUBLE OR NOTHING
Six different Mustangs have scored at least 10 points in a game this season, with Keena Mays (22, 25, 15, 10, 26, 22, 15, 12) reaching double figures in all eight games. Akil Simpson (15, 11, 16, 15, 20, 11, 11) finished with seven against Kansas State, and Destynee Hives-McCray has finished with at least 10 five times. Gabrielle Wilkins has reached double digits four times, and freshman Kiara Perry scored 10 three times. Mallory Singleton became the sixth player with a 10-point game, scoring 10 against Mississippi Valley State.
GET THE BALL
The Mustangs have forced 143 turnovers on the season, and SMU is also out-rebounding its opponents 355-321, and opponents have only grabbed 106 offensive boards. SMU has won the rebounding battle six times, and has a +4.3 rebounding margin average per game.
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. All nine players lit up the scoreboard again against Mississippi Valley State, with five scoring at least 10, and all nine dressed players scored against Lamar as well. Eight of the nine dressed players tallied points in three games, and seven players recorded points against TCU and Tennessee.
PASSING THE ROCK
The Mustangs have recorded 144 assists on 208 field goals this season, led by senior Keena Mays, who has 42 assists, including a season-high eight at Eastern Washington and again at SFA. Korina Baker has 32 assists, and Gabrielle Wilkins has 16. Freshman Kiara Perry has 18, and all nine players have at least four this season.
SIMPSON IS A STAR
Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points seven of the first eight games, including a season-high 20 at SFA. The senior posted her first double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds against MVSU, and recorded her second with 12 rebounds to go with 20 points at SFA. She scored 11 against No. 3/4 Tennessee. Simpson leads the team and is eighth in the conference, shooting 55.6 percent from the field. She is averaging 13.3 points with 7.6 rebounds.
PRESENCE IN THE PAINT
Destynee Hives-McCray is shooting 51.4 percent, averaging 11.4 points per game, and has reached double figures in four games, including three of the last four. She posted the first double-double in the season opener, scoring 16 points with 10 rebounds, and added a second with 12 points and 14 rebounds against Kansas State. The junior is averaging 7.4 rebounds per game, and has pulled down 10 three times this season.
A CLASS OF ONE
Kiara Perry is the lone freshman on the roster this season. She has started all eight games and reached double digits in points in three. The guard is averaging 8.1 points with 5.4 rebounds and 18 assists. 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.