SMU Begins Four-Game Road Trip At UTEP

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!

Dec. 5, 2013

 SMU (8-1) vs. (RV/RV) UTEP (7-0)
 Date & Tip Time  Saturday, Dec. 7 at 5:30 p.m. CT
 Location  Don Haskins Center - El Paso, Texas
 Live Video  All-Access
 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
March 3, 2013
Moody Coliseum
Mustangs Clinch C-USA Regular Season Title With 73-71 Win Over UTEP
DALLAS (SMU) - The Mustangs clinched at least a share of the Conference USA regular season championship with a 73-71 win against UTEP Sunday in the home finale in Moody Coliseum Sunday, improving to 12-3 in league play and 21-7 overall.

The Mustangs begin a four-game road trip Saturday at UTEP at 5:30 p.m. CT. SMU is 8-1, led by senior Keena Mays, who is leading the American Athletic Conference with 18.2 points per game. SMU enters the contest averaging 76.1 points per game, while the Miners, who are receiving votes in both polls with a 7-0 record, are scoring 80.1 points per game.

Keena Mays scored a game-high 17 points to lead SMU to an 82-39 win against Southeastern Louisiana Wednesday night in the final game at the Curtis Culwell Center. Akil Simpson and Destynee Hives-McCray each finished with 14 points, as the Mustangs out-scored the Lady Lions 53-22 in the second half. Leading by 12 at halftime, SMU (8-1) stretched the lead to 20 over the first eight minutes of the second half. Korina Baker made a pair of 3's during the run, finishing with six points and four assists. The Mustangs led by 25, 60-35 with 6:17 left in the game, and out-scored Southeastern 22-4 over the last six minutes to take the 43-point win. SMU shot 45.3 percent from the field, going 34-for-75, including a 59.0 shooting percentage in the second half, 23-for-39. The Mustangs held the Lady Lions (1-8) to a 24.6 percent clip and a season-low 39 points on 14 field goals in 57 attempts. All nine SMU players scored for the third time this season, and Mallory Singleton had a career-high seven assists to go with six points and five rebounds.

UTEP: The Miners are 7-0 on the season, receiving votes in both bolls. Kayla Thornton leads the team with 16.6 points per game, and is tied with Chrishauna Parker for the team lead with 8.1 rebounds per game. While Thornton is the only player averaging double figures, seven players are scoring at least five, and UTEP is scoring 80.1 points per game as a team. The Miners are out-scoring opponents by almost 30, allowing just 52.9 points per game. UTEP has one each of its games by at least 10 points this season, with a 13-point win over Texas State as the smallest margin of victory.

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.

The Mean Green is 4-4 on the season, with games against Northern Colorado and Denver in Colorado on Dec. 15 and 17 before hosting the Mustangs on Dec. 21. Briesha Wynn leads the team with 12.4 points per game, and North Texas is averaging 64.2 points as a team, while opponents are scoring 64.9 points. North Texas and its opponents are also even off the glass, with the Mean Green averaging 44.2 rebounds while opponents are pulling down 44.1.

Series History: SMU leads the all-time series 28-16, and the Mustangs have won six of the last 11. SMU is just 8-12 in Denton, but has won two of the last three on the road. The Mustangs won 67-63 last season. Gabrielle Wilkins is the top returner from the game, scoring 11 points.

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 leads the conference, scoring 18.2 points per game, and ranks ninth in the league, shooting 36.2 percent from behind the arc.

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, 17) reaching double figures in all nine games. Akil Simpson (15, 11, 16, 15, 20, 11, 11, 14) finished with seven against Kansas State for her only game below double digits, and Destynee Hives-McCray has finished with at least 10 six 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.

The Mustangs have forced 164 turnovers on the season, and are averaging 23.5 points off turnovers per game. SMU is also out-rebounding its opponents 406-360, and opponents have only grabbed 119 offensive boards. The Mustangs are averaging five more second-chance points per game than their opponents, and have won the rebounding battle seven times, all wins. SMU has a +5.1 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 have now scored in four games, accomplishing the feat against Mississippi Valley State, with five player reaching double figures, Lamar and Southeastern Louisiana. Eight of the nine dressed players tallied points in three games, and seven players recorded points against TCU and Tennessee.

The Mustangs have recorded 167 assists on 242 field goals this season, and have a 1.3 assist/turnover margin. Keena Mays leads the team with 43 assists, including a season-high eight at Eastern Washington and again at SFA. Korina Baker has 36 assists, and Gabrielle Wilkins and Kiara Perry each have 19. Forward Mallory Singleton took her season total to 20 with a career-high seven against Southeastern Louisiana.

Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points eight of the first nine games, including a season-high 20 at SFA. The senior posted her first double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds against MVSU, and has three on the season. She scored 11 points against No. 3/4 Tennessee. Simpson leads the team and is fifth in the conference and 47th in the NCAA, shooting 57.5 percent from the field. She is averaging 13.3 points with 7.7 rebounds.

Destynee Hives-McCray is shooting 53.9 percent, averaging 11.7 points per game, and has reached double figures in six games, including five of the last six. She has two double-doubles, and the junior is averaging 7.2 rebounds per game, pulling down 10 three times this season.

Kiara Perry is the lone freshman on the roster this season. She has started eight of nine games and reached double digits in points in three. The guard is averaging 8.0 points with 5.0 rebounds and 19 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.

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.

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.

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.