The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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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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Strong second half leads Mustangs to tournament final

Strong second half leads Mustangs to tournament final
John Schreiber

(John Schreiber)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Mustangs were down for most of the game, but they were in the lead when it counted, at the end.

After going on a 6-0 run to start the game SMU allowed Marshall to come back on a 14-0 run and it took the Mustangs the rest of the game to get the lead back. But the Mustangs regained the lead with less than six minutes left and didn’t let go, moving on to the championship game with a 68-59 win.

“We always knew we weren’t ready to go home,” senior Sharee Shepherd said. “We knew that we deserve to be in the championship game.”

But with a 35-25 halftime deficit that goal looked like it could be out of reach. But another 6-0 run to start the second half brought the Mustangs closer than they had been since the beginning of the game.

‘What we felt like the second half was a time where we needed to wear them down,” SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola said.

Marshall was playing their third game in three days, with one of them going into overtime.

The Mustangs also made one defensive adjustment, they changed to playing a zone defense to stop the quickness of Marshall’s guards Kizzy Hart and Casey Baker.

“We played more zone probably the second half than we’ve played all year, we’re more of a man-to-man, get in your face pressure team,” Rhompola said.

But it worked and the defensive change allowed the Mustangs to slow down the Thundering Herd offense and allowed SMU to get back into the game.

The Mustangs did not shoot the ball well throughout the entire game, just 36.7 percent, but were able to hold Marshall to just 24 halftime points.

“I challenged our team at halftime,” Rhompola said, “I challenged our guard and said what guard is going to step up and hit some outside shots.”

Jillian Samuels did just that.

It was her three-point shot that tied the game for the Mustangs with just over six minutes left in the game, and her second three that started a 9-0 SMU run and gave the Mustangs the lead for good.

Senior Janielle Dodds found herself in foul trouble throughout the game and saw just nine, second half minutes. But she managed to score 16 points in the second half, going 6-6 from the free throw line.

“Janielle made the shots at the end in the last couple of minutes, and that’s what your go-to-player [has to do],” Rompola said.

Dodds finished the game with 20 a game-high 20 points in just 25 minutes going 7-10 from the floor and 6-7 from the free throw line.

The Mustangs will now face regular season Conference USA champion and nationally ranked UTEP in the final Sunday at 2:30 p.m on ESPN 2. The Miners defeated Southern Miss 86-69 in their semi-final game on Saturday.

The Mustangs lost both regular season games against the Miners.

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