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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COLUMN: Describing a conference championship

ORLANDO, Fla. – What can you say after a performance like that? What is the perfect word that conveys what happened for two hours inside New UCF Arena on Sunday afternoon?

How about tenacious.

SMU lead the entire first half and then saw its lead dwindle early on in the second half. Probably everyone in the arena, myself included, thought they had seen this before. UTEP is no stranger to staging second half comebacks and then holding off its opponents for the final minutes.

It looked like it was happening again.

The Miners went on an 18-0 run and had sucked the life out of the Mustangs.

But then something unexpected happened on the way to UTEP’s coronation – SMU didn’t lie down. They didn’t give up (although, no one would have thought less of them for doing so at that point).

They fought back and they did it aggressively.

No player embodied this tenacious spirit more than senior Sharee Shepherd. Need someone to drive to the basket and not be afraid of getting banged up? Give it to Shepherd.

Want someone to bang around on the defensive side of the ball? Get Sharee to do it.

She was the heart and soul of this team, wearing her emotion on her sleeve.

And before you knew it, the game was tied. Then, SMU was back ahead.

The emotion spread to everyone as the minutes turned into seconds and it became clear SMU was going to upset UTEP.

Even head coach Rhonda Rompola got teary-eyed, and why not.

The challenges this team has endured off the court have been just as challenging, if not more, than the ones on it. But players like Delisha Wills and Katie Gross, who was beaming afterwards, tenaciously faced the challenges life threw at them and have responded.

So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that the Mustangs were hoisting the Conference USA trophy at the end of the game.

This team fought hard all year and was rewarded justly for it Sunday afternoon.

Conference USA Champions. That’s what tenacity will get you.

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