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


Women’s hoops falls short

Janielle Dodds and head coach Rhonda Rompola after Sundays loss to Notre Dame.
Mark Norris
Janielle Dodds and head coach Rhonda Rompola after Sunday’s loss to Notre Dame.

Janielle Dodds and head coach Rhonda Rompola after Sunday’s loss to Notre Dame. (Mark Norris)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Mustangs took the court for what ended up being their last game of the season in a 75-62 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Sunday afternoon at Purdue University’s Mackey Arena.

It was clear from the first shot by senior post Janielle Dodds the seniors were ready to pour their hearts and souls into what wound up being the team’s final game of the 2007-08 season, and final career game of five seniors.

Seniors Dodds, Katy Cobb, Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Sharee Shepherd, Katie Gross and Brittany Barker stood on a court for their last game as Mustangs before falling to nationally ranked Notre Dame.

“As I told our kids and especially our seniors, we should be very proud,” said head coach Rhonda Rompola. “We, as coaches, are proud of what they’ve done and what they’ve accomplished.”

Dodds broke another school record, reaching 110 blocks on her career after getting one block against Notre Dame to break her third-place tie with Katie Remke. Dodds previously established herself as the leading scorer and rebounder in SMU history against Tulane during conference play.

Sophomore guard Jillian Samuels set two SMU records in her first NCAA appearance. Samuels nailed four three-pointers, raising her season total to 72, and receiving the honor of draining the most shots from the long range in NCAA appearances for the Mustangs.

Recovering from a 17-point deficit with 9:24 remaining in the first half, the seniors, along with a large contribution from sophomores Brittany Gilliam and Delisha Wills, came back to within just four points of the Irish at the end of the first half.

SMU’s rebounding took a toll on the Mustangs’ performance, as the team surrendered 26 rebound opportunities, while collecting only two on offense and eight on defense the entire first half. While the Mustangs out-shot the Irish 42.3 percent to 40.5 percent in field goals, the Irish’s strong defensive front proved to be too much against go-to post player, Dodds.

“We got beat twice on the baseline because Dodds stood there and didn’t move,” said Rompola. “She is almost too careful on defense. Nevertheless, the Irish admitted to struggling against Dodds, and her strong presence at the post.

“Dodds is very good,” said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. “She’s a very difficult person to guard.”

Notre Dame’s Ashley Barlow posted 11 points in the first half, while Gilliam led the Mustangs with nine. Shepherd battled on both ends of the court, throwing her body onto the court on numerous occasions to salvage a missed pass or potential rebound, but came up short almost every time.

Ignited by Rompola, the Mustangs stormed out of the locker room to cut the score down to Notre Dame one-point lead. Wills hit a bucket to put the score at 40-39 in the Irish’s favor, but the score quickly began to spiral out of SMU’s control again.

Notre Dame took off on another brief point run, but began to notice the Mustangs matching them point-for-point as the minutes ticked by. In a matter of 13 minutes the Mustangs totaled 13 missed shots, retrieving only four of them, and having six turnovers.

“My thought is 49-26; that’s my thought,” said Rompola. “That’s the rebounding edge that Notre Dame had. Quite honestly, they were a force on the boards, they were more physical than us, they out-hustled us. They got a lot of second, third and sometimes fourth opportunities. When you give up that many offensive rebounds, you aren’t going to win many ball games. I thought even their guards did a good job of following the rebounds.”

The Mustang crowd exploded when Gilliam drained a pass from Shepherd to tie the score at 57-57. The Irish pulled ahead with a field goal, and the Mustangs had a chance to take the lead with a three-point attempt from Shepherd, but the ball fell short.

Two consecutive turnovers by Wills, followed by one from Samuels, and a foul on Gilliam led to the beginning of a dry spell for the Mustangs.

Rompola explained, “We expended a lot of energy, but there was only three and a half minutes to go. We just had some huge mental errors. We had our chances at the end and we didn’t make the most of them. You’ve got to make the plays at the end of the game. We played a little bit shaky at the end; we played like a team that was inexperienced.”

The Irish closed out the game on an 18-point run, leaving the Mustangs shocked and stunned as they watched their season come to an end. Giliiam, who added 12 points to the Mustangs total, fouled out with 2:03 left, putting a damper on the Mustangs’ offensive front.

“Everything we knew could hurt us that they did, they did,” said Dodds about Notre Dame’s strategies. “We fought hard, it’s not like we laid down and let them run all over us. We didn’t come out and play like the team we’re capable of being. For the players that are still left, they know what it’s like to get here and I hope they use it in the future to motivate them to get back to this spot next year.”

Samuels went on to add, “We needed to hurry up, fight big and calm down. It seemed as if we never calmed down and it seemed as if we were defeated. We kept fouling them and letting them get ‘and ones.’ We didn’t block out, we kept turning the ball over, and just made dumb mistakes. I felt we needed to hurry up and make a move to come back. We should have calmed down and played like we know we can play.”

The Mustangs’ season comes to an end after reaching the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in the program’s history, recording a school-record 24 wins, and defeating nationally ranked University of Texas-El Paso for the Conference USA Championship.

Rompola closed out the press conference praising her team saying, “This is a learning experience. When our seniors leave [Mackey Arena] they should be proud of what they accomplished.”

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