SMU came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to put themselves within just one point of the Horned Frogs with just more than one minute left, but couldn’t gain the lead, dropping a 53-60 loss to TCU (5-3) Wednesday night in Moody Coliseum.
Down by one with 37 seconds left, senior Derek Williams drew two shots from the line, but missed both, sending TCU to the line and then giving the Horned Frogs the opportunity to run out the clock for the win.
“I’m more excited about this team than I was after the Texas A&M or Florida game,” head coach Matt Doherty said. “You’ve got to win and you’ve got to lose, but as a coach you grade effort and we did some pretty good things.”
It took over seven minutes for the Horned Frogs to get on the board, as SMU went an eight-point unanswered run in the opening minutes of the first half, including three steals that resulted in scoring drives for the Mustangs.
SMU (2-3) continued to outscore and out-rebound their rival, going up by as many as nine points with approximately six minutes left. TCU managed to tie the game on two occasions in the first half, but never pulled ahead of the home team.
Going up against the TCU zone, the Mustangs found plenty of open paths to the basket, as they managed to outscore the Horned Frogs through the entirety of the first half.
Two dunks by senior forward Mouhammad Faye in the first half kept SMU’s momentum going, as the Mustangs headed in the locker room up 28-23. After the first half, SMU, despite failing to hit any three-pointers, shot 50 percent from the field, with 11 of their points coming off turnovers. SMU also excelled in the paint, gathering 22 points compared to TCU’s eight. The Mustangs finished with 38 points in the paint, matching an SMU season high.
The Horned Frogs shot just 8-for-20, but got off nine points in threes to put them within five points of SMU with 27 seconds remaining in the first. The TCU defense switched to more of man defense, closing off SMU’s passing lanes the Mustangs had relied on in the first half to put points on the board.
Faye led the Mustangs in the first half with nine points and six rebounds. On TCU, the 6-foot-6-inch point guard, Edvinas Ruzgas, led the Horned Frogs with 10 points, while 6-foot-9-inch forward Zvonko Buljn totaled five boards. Despite a strong defensive show in the first half, SMU began to crumble in the second, giving the Horned Frogs their first lead of the game with the first shot in the second half.
“It’s a rivalry game and we knew that were going to make a run, but we did things down the stretch. We found a way to make it work,” TCU head coach Jim Christian.
SMU came out slow in the second half, surrendering the final lead to TCU at the 17-minute mark. As the teams battled back and forth for the lead, TCU went on an 11-point run, going up by 12 before SMU retaliated with back-to-back shots by Derek Williams ended the SMU scoring drought. Williams and Dia would go on the finish the night with a team-high 16 points each.
Outscoring the Mustangs 20-6, TCU seemed to steal some of SMU’s momentum from the first half as the Mustangs continued to rack up personal fouls. SMU started to regain their energy, closing the scoring gap, but still falling behind by eight points with six minutes left.
Without the presence of 6-foot-11 inch Myles Luttman, the defense tired quickly, leaving Doherty no choice but to rotate his bench in early. The Mustangs would also have to finished the game with sophomore Paul McCoy and Faye, both of whom fouled out late in the second half. McCoy finished the night with zero points and three rebounds, while Faye contributed 11 points and 12 boards for his first career double double. SMU’s bench would finish the night with eight points, led by Rodney Clinkscales and Frank Otis with four points each.
“We put our most athletic guy on him just to stop him,” Christian said about McCoy. “He’s a great player. It was a tough night for him but he’s going to have some great nights.”
The Mustangs finished the night shooting 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from the free throw line, but could not sink any of their 13 three-point attempts. TCU shot an impressive 14 of 15 from the line, finishing 46 percent from the field and 53 percent from the long range.
“I was really proud and encouraged the way we came back,” Doherty said. “There was some ebb and flow to that game and the fact we fought back and had a chance to take the lead at the foul line it shows me they are a good team. I’m encouraged because we’re going to get better.”
The next game for the Mustangs is on Dec. 27, when SMU hosts Texas State (2-5) at 7 p.m. in Moody Coliseum.