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 men’s basketball loses in Tournament semi-final game

Mustangs earn first 20-win season since 1999-2000

(MICHAEL DANSER/The Daily Campus)

The Mustangs (20-15) may have been without their leading scorer in Friday’s 72-55 loss to Santa Clara University in the semifinal round of the Tournament, but as Head Coach Matt Doherty said, it’s not “Papa Dia University, it’s Southern Methodist University.”

“We’ve played without him [Dia] before and we knew we’re capable of beating other teams without him,” senior Ryan Harp said. “We gave it a good shot and we were there for awhile and then they [Santa Clara] hit some good shots and we went cold for a little bit but I’m blessed to be a part of this and it’s been a great year.”

Dia suffered an ankle injury when he was fouled on a layup by Santa Clara’s Ben Dowdell and played only 11 minutes in his final game on the Hilltop for four points and five rebounds.

“I thought the play was excessive,” Doherty said. “It is what it is and its hard when your best player only plays 11 minutes but the other guys put us in position to win and we just couldn’t get over the hump at the end.”

In their longest run in the postseason since 1956, the Mustangs went on a 17-4 run at 16:36 of the second half to go back up by 5 points over the Broncos.

But a three-pointer from senior Collin Mangrum ended up being the last successful field goal for the team in the remaining six minutes as Santa Clara (23-14) scored 19 unanswered points to seal the win.

Mangrum, one of six seniors on the team, finished the night with 13 points in his third double-digit performance of the season.

“They [the seniors] came in and they wanted to make a mark and they made a difference in SMU basketball and they leave here as winners after winning 20 games and going to postseason playing and doing a lot of things that haven’t been done here in awhile,” Doherty said. “You hate to see it end with a loss.”

“This year I realized this team has been a family to me and it’s been four great years,” Harp said. “This has definitely been the best. My teammates are like brothers. It’s just been a lot of fun.”

Led by Kevin Foster with 35 points and two steals on the night, the Broncos also pulled down 29 defensive and 14 offensive rebounds.

The sophomore guard scored 17 of his total points in the second half, including a two-point bucket at 7:04 that gave Santa Clara the lead for the remainder of the game.

“I don’t know how we could have guarded him [Foster] any better,” Doherty said. “It’s hard for me to say without really racking my brain, but he’s maybe the best shooter I’ve coached against.”

“He’s [Foster] a good player,” senior Mike Walker said. “He’s not the most athletic but he knows how to create space and obviously he can hit great shots.”

Walker, in his final game, scored 6 points, including two three-pointers, wraps up his career at SMU as eighth all-time at SMU in three pointers with 131.

SMU started off the game strong, going up by nine points with 6:01 left in the first half but the Broncos went on a 15-4 run, led by Foster and Troy Payne for a 32-30 lead at the break.

Without Dia in the lineup, SMU struggled on the boards, getting just 10 offensive rebounds.

Robert Nyakundi, with a team-high 14 points on the night, had his third double-double of the season with 10 boards but was scoreless the final 12 minutes of the game.

The Mustangs finished the night shooting 35.3 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from behind the arc, compared to a 46.6 percent field goal performance from the Broncos.

Santa Clara was also able to generate 11 points off SMU turnovers. After struggling to protect the ball (SMU had 48 turnovers in the previous three games of the CIT,), the Mustangs recorded just nine turnovers in Friday’s loss, four of which were committed by Dia before he left the game.

The Mustangs had only three turnovers in the second half.

“The program has officially turned around,” Doherty said. “You can see that by the numbers and feel.”

SMU defeated Oral Roberts University in the opening round of the tournament in the program’s first postseason win since the 1988 NCAA Tournament.

After ORU, SMU scraped by in a 63-62 last-second win over Jacksonville University before topping Northern Iowa University in the quarterfinals on March 21.

SMU finished with 20 wins on the season, the most for the program since the 1999-2000 season when the Mustangs went 21-9.

SMU’s three-game winning streak also marked the first time the team played in a tournament’s Final Four since advancing that far in the NCAA Tournament in 1956.

“I think this senior class has laid the foundation for future success,” Doherty said. “I’m already looking forward to next October when practice starts.”

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