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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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

COLUMN: SMU has nothing to be ashamed of

Mustangs showed grit by not giving up

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Walking out of Mackey Arena had to have been tough for the Mustangs.

They fought so hard to comeback from a 17-point deficit – grabbing the rebounds, making the passes and draining those three-point shots.

And then the rug was pulled out from underneath them.

It had to have been hard.

But hopefully these Mustangs left proud of what they were able to accomplish. They have no reason to be ashamed about the way Sunday’s game turned out.

SMU looked like a team that hadn’t been to the tournament in nearly a decade during the first part of the first half. They came out tentative, somewhat nervous and a little scared.

One of the images burned in my memory is the sight of Janielle Dodds slowly and methodically dribbling the ball before taking her free throw shots.

You could almost hear her saying inside her head, “I am calm. I am calm.”

It looked like SMU was going to be run out of the building before it even had a chance to get going.

But they didn’t.

“I think they fought back because they believed in themselves,” head coach Rhonda Rompola said.

The Mustangs we have gotten to know all year started chipping away at the Notre Dame lead and by late in the second half it was all tied up.

It was all kinds of deja vu back to the Conference USA final against UTEP.

Then it all went horribly wrong. A charging call took away the chance for SMU to take the lead and two turnovers on subsequent possessions took away the chance for SMU to win.

All that hard work gone, in an instant.

“We fought hard,” said senior Janielle Dodds. “It’s not just we laid down and let them run all over us.”

Dodds is right.

It would have been easy for SMU to throw up its arms in the first half and be overwhelmed. But they didn’t and they showed the true character of what a winner is by refusing to back down.

It’s not the ending the group of graduating seniors wanted, but they should be able to look at this game without getting angry at themselves. Notre Dame is the type of program SMU is striving to become – consistently ranked in the Top 25 and earning an NCAA bid every season.

There is no shame in losing to them the way they did. Notre Dame had the experience that SMU did not have until Sunday afternoon.

“I am very proud of this team, I had a great time playing with them,” senior Sharee Shepherd said. “We did play hard, we just couldn’t finish it.”

That’s true. But it would be a shame if this loss overshadows the rest of the season.

Rompola said it best after the game.

“As I told our kids – especially our seniors – when all is said and done we should be very proud. These seniors have built up a heck of a resume at SMU.”

“They built up expectations.”

Expectations mean winning. Winning means being successful most – if not all – of the time.

So next time a team like Notre Dame won’t pull the rug out from underneath SMU.

And the walk out of the arena will be a lot different than the one on Sunday.

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