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

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Gilliam expects excellence from women’s basketball

Ask soon to be junior forward Brittany Gilliam of the women’s basketball team what she expects of her team next season, and she is likely to tell you there will be nothing short of perfection on the court in the fall.

Reigning from Tyler, Texas, Gilliam suffered a season-ending knee injury during the summer in 2005, but unless you knew about Gilliam’s injury, you would never guess she missed playing in her final season at Tyler High School.

As a freshman at SMU, Gilliam played in all 30 games, including three starts. Making her mark as the third leading player in field goals, Gilliam also ranked second in steals, and posted the second-highest score total for a freshman.

The three-year letter winner in high school was also fourth in rebounds and blocked shots, and set a freshman game record against UTEP.

After crushing the University of Texas-El Paso in the C-USA Championship game, the Mustangs paid a visit to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for the first time since 2000, but fell short after round one in a 75-62 loss to Notre Dame.

“I think we should go farther than what we did [this last season],” said Gilliam. “I’m looking for us to honestly lose no less than three games.”

Those are high hopes for any SMU sport, but after the women’s season, it’s not an unrealistic goal for the team.

“I was really excited to make it that far. Just seeing it and being in the atmosphere and going to the games and having the other teams there,” said Gilliam. “It was like, ‘Whoa! We’re big time.'”

While the team rallied behind the strength if its five returning seniors, Gilliam’s strong offensive presence was a key asset to the Mustangs’ last games of the season. In the championship game against UTEP, Gilliam recorded a team-high 20 points.

“I really didn’t even know I had that many points,” recalled Gilliam. “My brother called me and he said it saw it on ESPN that I had 20 points. I was more upset because I kept fouling though.”

The break-through scorer also had a heavy impact in the NCAA tournament, racking up 12 points and four rebounds before fouling out with 2:07 remaining.

Gilliam has been on the team for only two years but already has a fistful of memories to last her a lifetime. Topping the list, though, was winning the C-USA Championship.

“Going in, it was a big game,” said Gilliam. “Everything was riding on it for us to go to the NCAA Tournament. To be in that state of mind going to the championship was really cool.”

Riding on three-game streak before defeating UTEP, the team had come to rely on the strong offensive presence of Janielle Dodds and Sharee Shepherd’s defensive showmanship.

“There’s going to be more shots taken from the team,” explained Gilliam. “I think we’ll lose something, but it won’t be a one-man show anymore. It’s going to make teams harder to scout us because they can’t be focused on just one player.”

When asked if their absence is going to affect play in the future, Gilliam confidently states that while the girls will be missed, the new team already holds some advantages from the reigning 2008 conference champs.

“You’ve got two players coming back as the second and third leading scorers [Wills and Samuels],” explained Gilliam. “All the returning players fall high in important categories. I’m really looking for the same production, but maybe even better because we’re going to be more experienced.”

So what can the individual who contributed to the most wins for the team in the program’s history still improve on?

“It’s about me finding the heart for it. I think that’s the biggest thing is getting back to loving it,” explained Gilliam about being in postseason. “You know, you just have to have the want and will for it, and that’s the biggest thing I’ve been learning is the will, the want, and the heart.”

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