Mustangs Begin Conference Play At No. 7 Louisville

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!

Dec. 27, 2013

 SMU (9-2) at No. 7/7 Louisville (12-1)
 Date & Tip Time  Sunday, Dec. 29 at 2 p.m. CT
 Location  KFC YUM! Center - Louisville, Ky.
 Radio KAAM 770 AM - Dallas
 Live Stats  Gametracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (.pdf)
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SMU starts action in the American Athletic Conference Sunday at No. 7/7 Louisville Sunday at 2 p.m. CT on ESPNU. The Mustangs finished the non-conference slate with a 9-2 record after winning their second overtime win of the season, an 84-79 road win at North Texas. Keena Mays, who leads the league with 20.9 points per game, eclipsed 30 points for the second straight game with 32 at North Texas. The Cardinals are 12-1 on the season, led by Shoni Schimmel's 16.1 points per game.

SMU begins play in the American Athletic Conference at No. 7 Louisville Dec. 29 on ESPNU at 2 p.m. CT. The Cardinals are 12-1 overall, with the lone loss coming at then-ranked No. 7 Kentucky. Schoni Schimmel leads the defending national runner-up with 16.1 points per game, and Louisville has scored at least 100 points in four of its games. As a team, the Cardinals are out-scoring opponents 88.8-60.6, and out-rebounding opponents 48-35. Louisville is shooting 51.0 percent from the field, and six Cardinals are shooting higher than 50 percent, led by Cortnee Walton's 61.5 shooting percentage (24-of-39)

Series History: SMU beat Louisville 71-54 on Nov. 29, 1996 in Boulder, Colo., in the only meeting between the two programs.

Keena Mays scored 32 points to lead SMU to an 84-79 overtime victory at North Texas Saturday. Held to just two points over the first 15 minutes of the second half, the senior guard hit a three 4:11 left in the game to pull SMU to within five, cutting the North Texas lead in half after Akil Simpson made a pair of free throws. Mays finished with 14 points in the last 9:11 of the game, including overtime, to eclipse 30 points for the second straight game, scoring a career-high 34 at UTEP on Dec. 7. Mays scored the last four points in regulation for the Mustangs (9-2), hitting a layup with 52 seconds to pull SMU to within one. After Alexis Hyder made the first of two free throws to push the lead back to two with 35 seconds left, Mays blazed past the entire defense for a game-tying layup with 29 seconds left. The SMU defense held North Texas scoreless on the final possession, with Hyder's close-range shot rolling off the back of the rim to send it to overtime.

For the second time in program history, the Mustangs will ring in the New Year with a game on New Year's Day. SMU will start 2014 with a road game at Cincinnati at 12 p.m. CT. The Bearcats are 7-4, winning their last five after starting the season 2-4. Dayeesha Hollins leads the team with 14.1 points per game. Jeanise Randolph is also averaging double figures, scoring 12.2 points per game with a team-high 7.8 rebounds.

Series History:
Cincinnati won the only meeting between the two programs on Nov. 23, 1979. The Bearcats won 61-53 in the first round of their home tournament.

Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs against 31 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 (8 opponents) until joining the Western Athletic Conference (18 opponents, 16 new) prior to the 1996-97 season. The Mustangs became members of Conference USA (11 opponents, 7 new) in 2005-06. The Mustangs have played conference games in 18 different states, as far west as Hawaii and as far north as Idaho. By the end of this season, SMU will add six schools and six states to its list of conference opponents.

Going into the start of conference play, Keena Mays leads the American Athletic Conference with 20.9 points per game, and is the only player in the conference with multiple Player of the Week awards, earning her third on Dec. 9 after scoring a career-high 34 points in a five-point loss at UTEP, and broke 30 for the second straight game with 32 at North Texas. She has eclipsed 20 six times this season, and also ranks among the league's leaders in assists (4th-4.5/game), steals (10th-1.7/game), and three-point percentage (5th-37.0 percent).

Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points 10 of the first 11 games, including a season-high 20 at SFA. The senior posted her fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 15 rebounds at UTEP, and has 20 during her career, recording nine as a sophomore. She scored 11 points against No. 3/4 Tennessee. Simpson leads the team, is fourth in the conference and ranks 27th in the NCAA, shooting 58.3 percent from the field. She is averaging 14.1 points, tied for 10th in The American, with 8.3 rebounds, ranking fifth in the conference.

Akil Simpson is just 34 points shy of becoming the 21st player to record 1,000 points as a Mustang. Simpson is currently averaging 14.1 points per contest, meaning she is on pace to break the 1,000-point barrier in three games, which would be Jan. 4 against USF in the Moody Coliseum opener. Simpson would be the first Mustang to reach the 1,000 point club since Alisha Filmore did so last season. Keena Mays is also close, with 985 total points including her time at Kansas. Mays is averaging 20.9 points per outing this season, and would nearly reach 1,000 points in just her SMU career if she keeps at that pace. She has scored 654 points in 34 games at SMU, averaging 19.2 points per game as a Mustang.

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, 34, 32) reaching double figures in all 10 games. Akil Simpson (15, 11, 16, 15, 20, 11, 11, 14, 17, 18) 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 197 turnovers on the season, and are averaging 20.1 points off turnovers per game. SMU ranks fourth in the conference with a +3.09 turnover margin. The Mustangs are also out-rebounding opponents 495-453, and opponents have only grabbed 154 offensive boards. The Mustangs were averaging nearly four more second-chance points per game than their opponents before the North Texas game, and have won the rebounding battle seven times, all wins. SMU has a +3.8 rebounding margin average per game.

The Mustangs have recorded 192 assists on 293 field goals this season, ranking third in The American with 17.5 assists per assists. SMU is second in the league with a 1.2 assist/turnover margin. Keena Mays leads the team with 50 assists, including a season-high eight at Eastern Washington and again at SFA, and ranks fourth in the league with 4.5 per game. Korina Baker has 40 assists, ranking 11th with 3.6 per game. Freshman Kiara Perry has 25, and forward Mallory Singleton has 22 with a career-high seven against Southeastern Louisiana.

Destynee Hives-McCray is third on the team with 11.0 points per game, and the post player is second with 7.0 rebounds per game. She is one of just two Mustangs shooting at least 50 percent with more than 20 attemps, hitting 53.8 percent from the field. She has reached double figures six times this season, and has two double-doubles. She has also grabbed at least 10 rebounds in three games.

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.