The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Women’s hoops secure No. 2 seed

The SMU women’s basketball team made history Saturday afternoon in an 85-74 victory over the University of Houston in Moody Coliseum.

The Mustangs captured their 21st win of the regular season in their last home game, making them 21-6 overall and 11-3 in Conference USA. The women also finished out their at-home portion of the season with 15 games over .500 to tie them with the biggest margin since the 1997-98 season.

The Mustangs also secured the No. 2 seed in the conference, granting them a first-week bye in the first round of the C-USA Tournament. The University of Texas at El Paso still leads the conference with a perfect 14-0 conference record.

The loss marked Houston’s fifth consecutive loss in a streak that was sparked by the Mustangs when they defeated the Cougars on Feb. 9 in Houston.

Senior Janielle Dodds led the Mustangs with 21 points on the night, making it the 10th game for her to score over 20 points in a game this season. Dodds needs only 14 points to break SMU alumna Karlin Kennedy’s record of 1,785 career points, an easy number for her to achieve in the approaching UTEP game. Dodds also pulled down nine rebounds, bringing her total to 936 on the season, moving her into second place in the books. Dodds needs only 11 more rebounds this season to move into first place for most career rebounds at SMU.

Sophomore Jillian Samuels also made history, becoming just the second player at SMU to hit more than 60 shots from behind the arc in a season. Samuels shot 3-5 in three pointers against the Cougars, bringing her season total to 61. Samuels contributed 14 points to her team’s victory Saturday afternoon, and shot a perfect 4-4 from the line.

The Mustangs struggled in the first half because of some distractions from senior day and issues with the game clock, and were unable to regain their composure after a length delay in the first few minutes of play. Going into the locker room down by four points, SMU struggled hitting only 12 of its 31 field goals and one of their six three-pointer attempts.

Houston’s Twiggy Mcintyre came out strong in the beginning, hitting 15 points in the first half to give her team a 40-36 lead in the first half. As the teams battled back and forth for a lead, the Mustangs and Cougars fought until the final minutes when Houston gained a two-point lead with 4:36 left to put away the first half.

Knowing they needed to step up their defense, the Mustangs came out in the second half as if a switch had been flipped within each player. The Mustangs had two more players secure double-digit figures, with sophomore Delisha Wills reaching 18 points and senior Sharee Shepherd scoring 14.

“Second half we made our runs by making plays defensivel and running the basketball,” explained head coach Rhonda Rompola.

The lead escaped SMU in the start of the second half, but a three pointer from Samuels, about five minutes in, tied the game at 45-45. Taking the lead for the remainder of the game, the Mustangs managed to pull ahead of the Cougars by as much as 11 points at several times during the last 10 minutes of play.

Houston finished with four of its players posting double-digit numbers and two players hitting double-doubles.

“Teamwork makes a dream work,” said Shepherd about the win. When asked what led to Wills’ 15 points in the second half, Shepherd joked, “We jumped Delisha in the locker room and told her she better score, and it worked.”

Pulling the seniors out with 30 seconds left, the crowd stood to recognize the seniors for winning their game in Moody Coliseum. “I told the team before the game, ‘We’re going to go as the seniors go and answer to their call,'” said Rompola.

With senior Katie Gross missing the end of the season because of an illness, the team made the decision to dedicate the season to Gross. “You see the girls wearing number four. She’s been a huge inspiration,” said Rompola. “Our team is very close. They want to do it for Katie. There’s a lot of self-motivation, and that’s the one time a coach doesn’t have to use their own motivation tactics.”

Gross will finish out the season traveling with the team in uniform and sitting on the bench at the conference championship in Orlando, Fla.

The Mustangs will close out the regular season on the road beginning with a game against undefeated UTEP on Feb. 28.

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