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 basketball puts together a season to remember

The Mustangs earned their first NCAA Tournament bid in eight years when they defeated the UTEP Miners in the championship game of the Conference USA Tournament on March 9.

Monday, the Mustangs found out they would be the No. 12 seed in the Oklahoma City regional playing No. 5 seed Notre Dame in West Lafayette, Ind.

“This has been a great year for the women’s basketball team. They have been fun to watch all season long. They have a great team with many talented and skilled players,” junior mechanical engineering and French major Ian McFarland said. “After seeing what they did in the conference tournament I can’t wait to see them take their skills up against some of the best teams in the country in the national tournament.”

With five seniors returning to the team, there was a sense of urgency for SMU.

“This is our deadline for the seniors,” senior post Janielle Dodds said. “We don’t have another chance after this; we’re done.”

And the Mustangs went on to make the season a memorable one.

After losing their opening game to No. 11 Texas A&M on Nov. 9, 2007, the Mustangs went on an eight-game winning streak to start the season. Once again SMU showed a similar trend in conference play.

The Mustangs once again lost the opener to Tulsa, but then went on a four-game winning streak that ended when they faced Tulsa and lost again. The final two games of that winning streak were wins on the road.

“Everything clicked when we played East Carolina and Marshall,” Dodds said. “A couple games after that we started blowing teams out and we were playing at the top of our level.”

After back-to-back losses to Tulsa and UTEP the Mustangs took their frustration out on their next seven opponents. Defeating them by a combined 567-430, an average of just less than 20 points a game including a 93-49 win over Memphis on Feb. 14.

But the Mustangs ended the regular season on a sour note, losing their final two games.

Losses on the road to UTEP and Tulane were not the way SMU wanted to end the season, but a 21-8 overall record and an 11-5 was enough to earn the Mustangs the No. 2 seed in the C-USA Tournament.

And the 21 victories set a new school record for wins in the regular season.

During the season, two individuals set SMU records of their own.

Head coach Rhonda Rompola came into her 17th season as head coach of the Mustangs with 288 career wins, and on Jan. 13 the Mustangs got their 12th win of the season and that number became 300. Subsequently, Rompola became the winningest coach in SMU history, men’s or women’s.

But Rompola wouldn’t take all the credit for the 300 wins; she wanted to put emphasis on the people that have been there with her.

“A lot of players have been a part of that over the years,” Rompola said. “And assistants have been here for a long time.”

Associate coach Lisa Dark has been with Rompola every step of the way. Dark graduated in 1991 from SMU and has been on the coaching staff for each year Rompola has led the Mustangs.

Assistant coach Deneen Parker has been with SMU all 13 years of her coaching career and came to the Mustangs after spending four years playing at Stephen F. Austin.

In fact, one of her assistants was her player at one time. Assistant coach Karen Blair is in her ninth season as an assistant to Rompola and played for the coach from 1995-1999. She was on the roster the last time SMU went to the NCAA Tournament.

“The longevity of this staff as a unit is incredible,” Rompola said in the 2007-08 media guide. “Not only are we peers in this profession, we are all good friends.”

But Rompola is not a stranger to the SMU record book. During her career as a player she found her way to the top of the record books and still holds five individual records as a player.

This year Janielle Dodds joined her on that list.

Dodds put her name at the top of two records this season. She came into the season 418 points and 221 rebounds shy of breaking two career records. And on March 1 she managed to break them both in a 71-68 loss at Tulane.

“Breaking both records has been an awesome experience,” Dodds said. “And to be honest, it still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Since then Dodds has earned two other honors. She was named to the First Team All-Conference USA and was named the MVP of the C-USA Tournament.

But it is what the team has been able to accomplish that takes the emphasis for all the players and coaches.

Along with the 21 regular-season wins record, the three wins the Mustangs had in the tournament breaks another school record for overall wins with 24. And the 29 free throws made in the championship game is a new conference record.

“We have a lot of experience,” senior Sharee Shepherd said. “We have been playing together and our chemistry is very good, we know each other on the court.”

Now the Mustangs will look to continue their winning ways in the NCAA Tournament.

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