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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Mustangs fall in double-overtime to Rice, 80-75

 Mustangs fall in double-overtime to Rice, 80-75
Photo by Nate Regan, The Daily Campus
Mustangs fall in double-overtime to Rice, 80-75

Mustangs fall in double-overtime to Rice, 80-75 (Photo by Nate Regan, The Daily Campus)

Following the Mustangs’ (14-13, 9-9 WAC) thrilling overtime victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9-19, 5-13 WAC) on Thursday, the team hosted the Rice Owls (18-10, 12-6 WAC) Saturday in Moody Coliseum. Once again, 40 minutes of regulation was not enough to settle the score.

Against Rice, however, senior Michael Harris lead the way as the Owls flew past the Ponies in double-overtime, 80-75.

Harris contributed a game-high 23 points against SMU, while forward J.R. Harrison and guard Jason McKrieth scored 21 and 22, respectively.

It was the first time since February 2003 against Boise State that three opposing players have each netted 20 or more points.

“[Harris] is deceptively strong and has great leaping abilities,” said senior center Eric Castro, who guarded the Owls’ forward for most of the evening.

Indeed, Harris pulled down seven defensive rebounds, helping keep the Mustangs to just two second-chance points in the first half.

It was his late free-throws shots (he would hit five of them in the final 34 seconds of the second overtime) that pushed Harris and the Owls ahead for good.

In the meantime, SMU managed to shoot just 35.9 percent after halftime, including four consecutive missed three-pointers during the overtime minutes.

“It came down to some good shots at key times in the game,” head coach Jimmy Tubbs said, “and we didn’t do that.”

The Mustangs led by as many as eight points with just under 15 minutes to play in the second half, going ahead 41-33 as junior guard Bryan Hopkins hit one of his two three-pointers on the evening.

After Rice called a 30-second timeout, however, the Owls’ trio of 20-point scorers helped their team charge on a 16-8 run, knotting the game at 49 with just over six minutes to play.

A back-and-forth battle left the two teams tied, 52-52, at the end of regulation.

In the first overtime, the Owls’ lead grew to as much as six before freshman guard Derrick Roberts capped a minute-long SMU run. When Rice’s Harrison missed a free throw shot after being fouled by senior forward Patrick Simpson, the Mustangs’ Justin Isham fed the rebound to Roberts, who put in a game-tying layup with 10 seconds left on the clock.

Harrison came back, however, to score eight of his team’s 16 points in the second overtime, leading to an 80-75 Rice victory.

With the extra periods, SMU tied a school record set in 2002-03 by playing in their fifth overtime game of the season. The team has a 3-2 record in OT games, both losses coming to Rice.

“Both teams made [offensive] runs,” Hopkins said. “Just a couple of baskets didn’t go our way.”

While the Owls clinched a No. 3 spot in this week’s WAC Tournament in Reno, Nev., the loss pushed the Mustangs’ conference record to 9-9, earning them a No. 6 seed heading into Thursday’s game. Their opponent, for the third time this season, will be Rice.

According to Castro, the Owls may present the most even in-conference match for a physical SMU ball club. The two teams combined for 45 personal fouls in Saturday’s game.

“I feel like the other teams in the WAC either have a disadvantage or an advantage against us,” he said.

“If we cut down on a couple of turnovers, we know we can beat them.”

If they are to defeat Rice in the first round of the tournament, the Mustangs will likely have to do so without sophomore forward Devon Pearson, who sat out the team’s two final home games with a separated shoulder. Pearson will travel to Reno with the team this week, but Tubbs is not sure if he will be healed enough to face the Owls on Thursday.

“We really miss him,” the coach said, “with all those rebounds.”

Pearson is third on the team with 6.2 rebounds per game and fourth in scoring, averaging over 10 points per contest on the year. He also ranks second in blocks (19) and steals (36).

“It shows we’re a tough team,” Hopkins said of the Mustangs’ ability to carry on without the injured Pearson, battling both Tulsa and Rice into the final seconds of regulation and beyond. “Guys just need to step up.”

With the exception of freshman guard Jon Killen, who had a standout game with eight points and four steals in 24 minutes, the SMU bench produced five fouls and three turnovers while racking up a grand scoring total of zero points.

“It’s tough to win a tournament with six people,” Tubbs said. “Our guys have to keep working.”

Seniors Castro, Isham, Simpson and Mike Dement, along with junior Brian Miller, who will graduate early and forgo his senior season, were recognized before their final home game at Moody Coliseum. Miller, who has been out all year with a back injury, was the only one not to see playing time against the Owls.

For Castro, who was recently named a First-Team Academic All-American (3.8 GPA) while averaging career-highs in points (14.4) and rebounds (a team-leading 7.3 per game), his final regular-season game as a Mustang was bittersweet.

“It feels good,” he said of his personal achievements, “but we lost.”

On Sunday, the honors continued to roll in for SMU players, as Hopkins was named Second-Team All-WAC, averaging 19.3 points, 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals in conference games.

Hopkins will try to continue his solid WAC play when his Mustangs take on Rice in the first round of this year’s tournament. Tip off is set for 4:30 p.m. (CST) Thursday at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev. The game will be broadcast locally on KAAM 770 AM.

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